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White House defends immigration policy as outrage grows over children

Thompson Reuters

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WAHINGTON — The White House on Monday defended its hardline immigration policy at the US-Mexico border as furor grew over the separation of immigrant parents and children, including video of youngsters sitting in concrete-floored cages.

President Donald Trump says he will not allow the United States to become a ‘migrant camp’ as his administration faced a barrage of criticism for separating immigrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

Democrats blasted such treatment as ‘barbaric,’ while a few of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans also voiced concern as the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives moved toward voting later this week on two pieces of immigration-related legislation.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, appointed by Trump, told reporters at a White House briefing that the administration was only strictly enforcing the law.

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“This administration did not create a policy of separating families. … What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law,” she said.

The outcry over the detained children resulted from the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which provides for the arrest of all adults caught trying to enter the United States illegally, including those seeking asylum.

While parents are held in jail, their children are sent to separate detention facilities, some in remote locations. Video footage released by the government showed migrant children held in wire cages, sitting on concrete floors.

An audio recording said to capture the sounds of immigrant children crying in a detention facility was circulating online. Reuters could not independently verify its authenticity.

Trump administration officials say the zero-tolerance policy, which was not practiced by the two previous presidents, is needed to secure the border and deter illegal immigration.

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But Democrats and some Republicans have admonished the administration for dividing nearly 2,000 children from their parents between mid-April and the end of May.

“The increasing number of children being ripped away from their parents is sickening,” said Democratic Senator Michael Bennet. “Yet the president and his administration continue to perpetuate falsehoods and blame others for their own cruelty.”

After visiting an immigration detention center in San Diego, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said: “Our message to Mr. Trump is, stop this inhumane, barbaric policy.” Pelosi also called on Nielsen to resign from her post over the dispute.

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32 dead, 1 missing in Papua attacks, Indonesian police say

AP Associated Press

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JAYAPURA, INDONESIA- Security forces tried to recover the bodies of 31 construction workers and a soldier who were killed in one of the worst separatist attacks in Indonesia’s restive province of Papua, officials said Tuesday.

Papua police spokesman Suryadi Diaz said 24 workers were killed on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government bridge construction project in a remote mountainous village in Nduga district.

Citing reports from several witnesses, Diaz said, eight other workers fled to the nearby house of a local parliament member, but an armed group came a day later and killed seven of them. However the eighth managed to escape and remains missing.

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“This is the worst attack launched by the armed criminal group recently amid intensified development by the government,” Diaz told The Associated Press.

Separately, Papua province military spokesman Lt. Col. Dax Sianturi said an armed group attacked a military post in Mbua village in the same district late Monday, killing a soldier and injuring another.

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