FILE - In this Monday, June 18, 2018 file photo, Akemi Vargas, 8, cries as she talks about being separated from her father during an immigration family separation protest in front of the Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. District Court building in Phoenix. Child welfare agencies across America make wrenching decisions every day to separate children from their parents. But those agencies have ways of minimizing the trauma that aren't being employed by the Trump administration at the Mexican border. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

The Latest: AMA calls for an end to border separations

June 20, 2018 - 12:04 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Congress and immigration (all times EDT):

12:01 a.m.

The largest U.S. doctors' group, the American Medical Association, is urging the Trump administration to end promptly the practice of separating children from their migrating families at the southern border.

The AMA's chief executive officer, Dr. James Madara, writes in a letter that families seeking refuge in the U.S. "already endure emotional and physical stress" and that separation only makes it worse.

Madara says it's well known that childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences created by inhumane treatment often create negative health impacts that can last a lifetime.

Madara sent the letter Tuesday to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The letter being made public Wednesday follows new policy AMA adopted at its annual meeting last week in Chicago.

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11:10 p.m.

Congressman Mark Sanford tells The Associated Press that he's confused by President Donald Trump's latest attack on him, but glad his colleagues showed displeasure at Trump's broadside.

At a closed-door meeting Tuesday on immigration with House Republicans, participants say Trump sarcastically congratulated the South Carolina Republican for a "great race." Sanford lost his GOP primary last week after Trump urged voters to dump him. Republicans present say there were hushed boos in a show of support for Sanford, who was absent.

Sanford says he "finds some solace" in the boos, which he says friends described to him. He says it's "startling" Trump would raise "some perceived personal slight" during a meeting on a serious topic.

The people described the meeting on condition of anonymity because the session was private.

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7:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump worked in a verbal jab at Rep. Mark Sanford, a Republican from South Carolina, as he spoke to House Republicans Tuesday evening on Capitol Hill.

"I want to congratulate Mark on a great race," Trump said, according to two sources who were in the room but demanded anonymity in order to discuss the private meeting.

Sanford, a frequent critic of the president, lost his primary last week to South Carolina state Rep. Katie Arrington.

He has blamed his defeat on Trump, saying support for the president is becoming a litmus test in GOP primaries. "It's a very tribal environment right now," he said.

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6:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump told House Republicans he was "1,000 percent" with them on rival immigration bills up for votes, but it was not clear if he had a preference on how to handle family separations at the border.

That's according to people who were in the closed-door session, who requested anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

"We had a great meeting," Trump told reporters as he left the Capitol with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

Those in the meeting the Capitol basement say Trump discussed various topics, including his recent historic trip to North Korea.

On immigration, they say Trump told them: "I am behind you so much. We need the wall."

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6:50 p.m.

Human rights agencies in five Latin American nations are urging the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to push the United States to implement precautionary measures for avoiding the separation of migrant children from their families.

The petition asks the commission to demand Washington take any actions necessary to protect family rights and personal integrity. It calls the separations "dangerous" and "inhumane."

It is signed by the governmental rights agencies of Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

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6 p.m.

President Donald Trump arrived for a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill saying he wants to try to fix a broken immigration system.

Trump told reporters the nation's immigration system has been "a really bad, bad system, probably the worst anywhere in the world. We're going to try and see if we can fix it."

The president was meeting privately with the full House Republican conference ahead of possible votes this week on immigration bills. The Trump administration faces a public outcry over its policy of separating families at the border and housing immigrant children in detention cages.

Trump was walking with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who thanked reporters but did not respond to shouted questions.

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5:55 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters are streaming into a Philadelphia park across from a hotel where Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak at a fundraising dinner.

Most of the protesters are carrying signs decrying the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on migrants, which has resulted in the separation of parents and children. Organizers arranged about 50 pairs of children's shoes into the word "No" on the grass facing the hotel.

Steady crowds of people, many of whom came to the downtown park after work, continued to arrive well after the start of the rally. Police officers had shut down streets on two sides of the downtown park to restrict access to the hotel where Pence is speaking this evening.

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5:40 p.m.

Hundreds of demonstrators are protesting outside the offices of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Francisco, banging drums and chanting "Stop taking children!" and "The people are rising, no more compromising!" amid a growing uproar over the Trump administration's policy of separating immigrant children from their parents.

Some in the group of about 500 are holding signs that read "Refugees In, ICE Out" and "Keep Families Together."

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5:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump would seriously consider a stand-alone bill that would prevent migrant children from being separated from their parents at the border.

That's according to a White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the president's position by name.

The official says the president wants a comprehensive immigration fix, but will seriously consider a stand-alone bill if he's presented with one.

The position appears to be a departure from Monday, when White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to voice support for a narrower fix, saying: "We want to fix the entire system. We don't want to just tinker with it."

Trump is heading to Capitol Hill shortly to discuss the issue with House Republicans.

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5 p.m.

A Guatemalan woman who said her 7-year-old son was "ripped away" from her after they came to the U.S. seeking asylum has sued the Trump administration.

Beata Mariana de Jesus Mejia-Mejia alleges that border agents took her son two days after they crossed the U.S. border near San Luis, Arizona, on May 19.

The lawsuit says her son was "screaming and crying" when border agents took him away and cried "Mama!" repeatedly the one time she was allowed to speak to him by phone.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, D.C., says the boy is believed to be housed in a Phoenix detention facility for unaccompanied minors.

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4:50 p.m.

Mayors from across the U.S. plan to travel to the Texas border to protest the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on migrants that has resulted in the separation of families.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors says its president, Steve Benjamin, who is the mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, will lead a bipartisan delegation of mayors. They will gather for a news conference Thursday morning at the Tornillo port of entry, located outside of El Paso.

The conference unanimously passed a resolution last week registering its opposition to separating children from their families at the border.

Mayors expected to attend also include Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and El Paso Mayor Dee Margo.

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4:45 p.m.

A crowd protesting the Trump administration's separation of immigrant children at the border greeted Vice President Mike Pence with boos and drumbeats as his caravan arrived at an upstate New York Republican fundraiser.

Syracuse.com reports that several hundred protesters lined several blocks across from Tuesday's event with Rep. John Katko, a central New York Republican.

Later, Pence toured the Nucor Steel plant in Auburn. There, he spent about four minutes addressing the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where migrant children are being separated from their parents under a zero-tolerance policy.

Pence blamed weak immigration laws and said the administration doesn't want children taken from parents.

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4 p.m.

Bono, the lead singer of U2, is calling on members of Congress from both parties to demand an end to family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I cannot think of a more un-American thing than warehousing children," the musician tells The Associated Press.

Bono says that because he's Irish, it's hard not to think of his own people's history. He says of the family separations, "For anybody, but for Irish people, who were essentially economic refuges to this country, it's very, very upsetting."

Bono was visiting Capitol Hill Tuesday to thank Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Congress for funding international development programs. He's the co-founder of The One Campaign, which advocates for ending extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.

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3:55 p.m.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York state will sue the federal government over the Trump administration's policy of separating families accused of crossing the U.S. border illegally.

The Democrat said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that he expects the lawsuit to be filed within two weeks.

Cuomo says at least 70 children who were separated from their parents are currently being housed in New York facilities that have contracts with the federal government. Most of the facilities are in the New York City area.

Cuomo says the Trump administration's policy of separating families is "inhumane."

The governor says the lawsuit will claim the children were taken from their parents without due process under federal and state laws.

The Trump administration says the family separations are required under the law.

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3:30 p.m.

Homeland Security officials say there have been 148 cases where someone fraudulently posed as a family member of children at the U.S. border from October to April.

According to figures released Tuesday, the cases involved 301 people. Officials did not say how many were children.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has said there was a 314 percent increase in adults showing up with kids who are not family members. She says they are traffickers and smugglers.

More than 2,300 minors have been separated from their families crossing the border to the U.S. under a zero-tolerance policy where everyone caught crossing illegally is prosecuted.

Nielsen says those legitimately seeking asylum should go to official border crossings with their families and they will not be separated.

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3:05 p.m.

Some business leaders are condemning the Trump administration's decision to separate children from parents who are accused of crossing the border illegally.

The Business Roundtable, a lobbying group that includes the CEOs of Walmart Inc., General Motors Co., Boeing Co. and Mastercard Inc., released a statement Tuesday urging the immediate end to the policy.

"This practice is cruel and contrary to American values," said Chuck Robbins, the chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems Inc. and the head of the Business Roundtable's immigration committee.

The group called for comprehensive immigration reform that protects some immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. The group also doesn't want to curb legal immigration, which it says helps U.S. businesses.

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