Trump has also blamed Democrats for the migrants' continued plight, citing their refusal to accept a bill that would fully fund the border wall and end family reunification visas. "The message is that no one is exempt from immigration law". Ted Cruz, said the process of separating families is 'inhumane'.
'Democrats and Republicans have spoken out against the practice. You know: The American Dream!' Jim Carrey also criticized the inhuman policy.
The new figures are for people who tried to enter the USA between official border crossings.
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who delivered a prayer at Trump's inauguration, signed a letter calling the practice "horrible".
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "The separation of alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that Democrats refuse to close, and these laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade". The US administration claims they will be reunited as soon as possible after their parents have been dealt with and their sentences served; but some of those working within the immigration system claim the onus is on the families to fight for their children's return.
It came the day after his administration said that it had taken almost 2,000 children away from their parents in a six-week period ending last month, as part of a new zero tolerance policy that refers for criminal prosecution all immigrants apprehended crossing the border without authorization.
The new figures are for people who tried to enter the United States between official border crossings.
The push toward immigration votes in the House is intensifying the divide among Republicans on one of the party's most animating issues and fueling concerns that a voter backlash could cost the GOP control of the House in November.
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In an astonishing assertion for a country that often boasts about the primacy of its constitution and laws, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued during a speech to law enforcement officers that the Bible enjoined them "to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes", citing the Apostle Paul and his "clear and wise command" in Romans 13. But senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway pushed back on that notion Sunday. With co-ordination between the different agencies poor, some parents are said to have been deported before they could find out where their offspring were being held. "And I don't see how you do that without having a suite for every self-described family unit". The goal of the policy is to prosecute as many people as possible for illegally entering the USA, even if it means separating parents from their children. "They never expected the bill to pass".
"On the legislative side, they are not trying to talk to any Democrats", said Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. If they can be held indefinitely, the logic goes, there will be less reason to separate them. Those migrants had avoided detention during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Sessions announced the effort April 6, and Homeland Security began stepping up referrals in early May, effectively putting the policy into action.
Previously, people who entered the country illegally and had no criminal record were detained or referred for deportation, and mothers and children usually remained together.
The biblical underpinnings have been challenged by religious leaders.
The government pays more than $1 billion a year to care for unaccompanied immigrant children, Sessions has said. The policy is part of the Justice Department's clampdown on immigration.
"I hope to produce the outrage and the public pressure to force those in power to do the right thing", he said.