By The Associated Press
Jun 18, 2018 Updated 2 hrs ago
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., second from left, looks on as U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., speaks at the podium in front of members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during a visit to the border, Monday, June 18, 2018, in San Diego. The members of Congress spoke about their visit to area immigration detention facilities. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
The forced separation of migrant children from their parents fueled a weekend of intense criticism of President Trump's immigration policies. Both Democrats and some Republicans are now calling for an end to the practice at the U.S.-Mexico border. A look at the latest developments:
TRUMP DIGS IN
Amid the criticism, the president dug in Monday , again falsely blaming Democrats for the crisis. His administration put the practice in place and could easily end it.
Trump tweeted: "Why don't the Democrats give us the votes to fix the world's worst immigration laws? Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13 , coming into our country illegally?"
The U.S. has tried for years to address the influx of families crossing the border. In April, Trump's administration adopted a zero-tolerance policy. That means if a person does not arrive at an appropriate port of entry to claim asylum, the crossing is prosecuted as a crime. With the adult detained, any minors accompanying that person are taken away.
Politicians and advocates flocked to the border to visit immigration detention centers and turn up the pressure on the administration.
A group of congressional lawmakers on Sunday visited an old warehouse in South Texas where hundreds of children are being held in cages created by metal fencing. One cage held 20 youngsters.
"Those kids inside who have been separated from their parents are already being traumatized," said Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. "It doesn't matter whether the floor is swept and the bedsheets tucked in tight."
Nearly 2,000 children were taken from their parents over a six-week period in April and May.
ISSUE DIVIDES REPUBLICANS AND THEIR ALLIES
The policy is starting to divide Republicans and their allies.
Former first lady Laura Bush called the practice "cruel" and "immoral." GOP Sen. Susan Collins also expressed concern. Religious groups, including some conservative ones, are also protesting.
Mrs. Bush made some of the strongest comments yet about the policy from the Republican side of the aisle.
"I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart," she wrote in a guest column published Sunday in The Washington Post. She compared it to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which she called "one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history."
The signs of splintering GOP support come after a longtime Trump ally, the Rev. Franklin Graham, called the policy "disgraceful."
FIRST LADY HOPES FOR REFORM
First lady Melania Trump issued a statement saying that she "hates" to see families separated and hopes "both sides of the aisle" can reform the nation's immigration laws.
Mrs. Trump "believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart," Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump, said Sunday.
She said Mrs. Trump hopes both sides "can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform."
While the statement suggested the matter was an issue for Congress, Democratic lawmakers and others have pointed out that no law mandates the separation of children and parents at the border.
CLINTON SAYS PEOPLE SHOULD BE 'OUTRAGED'
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the administration's zero-tolerance policy "a moral and humanitarian crisis."
Speaking Monday at an awards lunch for the Women's Forum of New York, Clinton said what was happening to families at the U.S.-Mexico border is "horrific."
"Every human being with a sense of compassion and decency should be outraged," Clinton said.
The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said she had warned during the campaign that Trump's hard-line immigration stance would result in family separations.
"Now as we watch with broken hearts, that's exactly what's happening," she said.
REPORTERS VISIT WAREHOUSE HOLDING FACILITY
The Border Patrol on Sunday allowed reporters to briefly visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the border.
Inside the old warehouse in South Texas, one teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she did not know because the child's aunt was somewhere else in the facility. She said she had to show others in her cell how to change the girl's diaper.
More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility, which was divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and parents with children. The cages in each wing opened into common areas to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting in the warehouse stays on around the clock.
Close to 200 people inside the facility were minors unaccompanied by a parent, the Border Patrol said.
5 KILLED IN SUV CRASH WHILE FLEEING FROM BORDER PATROL
An SUV crashed Sunday while fleeing from Border Patrol agents in South Texas, killing at least five people, authorities said.
The vehicle carrying 14 people went out of control at more than 100 mph and overturned on Texas Highway 85, ejecting most of the occupants, Dimmit County Sheriff Marion Boyd said.
The Border Patrol said in a statement Sunday night that two other vehicles had been traveling alongside the SUV earlier in the day. An agent suspected they were conducting a "smuggling event," according to the statement, which did not elaborate.
Early life and education
Juan Vargas was born on an chicken ranch in National City, California, where he grew up very poor. He is the third of ten children of Tomas and Celina Vargas, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the late 1940s as part of the Bracero program. Vargas graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA from University of San Diego and earned an MA in Humanities from Fordham University in New York City.
After college, Vargas joined the Jesuit Novitiate (introduction) in Santa Barbara. In the Jesuits, Vargas served in an orphanage in the civil-war-torn jungles of El Salvador. After leaving the Jesuits, he decided on law school and graduated in 1991 with a JD from Harvard Law School, making him a classmate of President Barack Obama.