Congressional Republicans have distanced themselves from the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House and Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited the Bible in defending the “zero tolerance” approach to illegal border crossings, reports the Associated Press. House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans said they were not comfortable with family separations, which spiked dramatically after the Justice Department adopted a policy in April of referring all illegal border crossers for prosecution. Meanwhile, thousands of people demonstrated against the family separations in dozens of communities on Thursday, including Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and Suffolk County, N.Y.
In an unusually tense series of exchanges in the White House briefing room, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders blamed Democrats for the policy separating children from parents and wrongly insisted the administration had made no changes increasing the tactics’ use. Ryan and other GOP lawmakers said they are seeking to resolve the problem in a compromise immigration bill. A draft of that bill released Thursday would keep children with their families while they are in Homeland Security Department custody. Ryan claimed Thursday that the family-separation policy is being dictated by a court ruling that prevents children who enter the country illegally from being held in custody for long periods. But House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said President Trump could “stop the practice on a dime.” She called the Trump administration’s separation policy “barbaric.”