Moms breastfeed in front of ICE headquarters to protest Trump immigration policies

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"It is still very early and we are awaiting further guidance on the matter", said Brian Marriott, senior director of communications at HHS's Administration of Children and Families.

Under the Trump administration's separation system, parents who are prosecuted and held in immigration detention to await deportation can not regain custody of their children.

He said he was looking into whether the court could block deportation of parents until they have been reunited with their children, and whether it could force the Trump administration to reunite those separated.

For days, Trump and his top administration officials were unwilling to unilaterally reverse the separation policy, insisting that congressional action was required.

While President Donald Trump doubles down on the incendiary immigration rhetoric that excited his base in 2016, the most vulnerable Republicans in 2018 find themselves under renewed attack from Democrats over the administration's "zero tolerance" policy at the border.

Under the administration's current policy, all unlawful crossings are referred for prosecution - a process that moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Some Republicans in competitive races this fall broke with Trump on the policy but didn't directly blame the President, instead choosing to vaguely blame Washington or Congress.

"I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated", Trump said. Expanded facilities could be key, as migrant children separated from their parents are now housed by a different department, Health and Human Services. One White House official said Mrs. Trump had been making her opinion known to the president for some time that she felt he needed to do all he could to help families stay together, whether it was by working with Congress or acting on his own.

"Right now we're focused on getting this bill passed", he said.

Signing an executive order to reverse his own administration's practice would also be unnecessary since nearly everyone in Washington, apart from the President, agrees that he already has the power to end the separations any time he wants.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader from NY, is adamant that Trump can end the family separations on his own and that legislation is not needed.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters that all Senate Republicans are supporting the plan. The president's surprise decision comes after images of children being separated from their parents erupted a national political firestorm.

The last-minute decision came at almost the same moment the House killed another more conservative immigration bill - also supported by Trump and GOP leaders - by a vote of 193-to-231. The official did not know what prompted Trump to change course.

Under the order, the zero-tolerance policy will remain in effect.

Wednesday's order included the caveat that immigration authorities will not detain families together if "there is a concern that detention of an alien child with the child's alien parent would pose a risk to the child's welfare".

The issue struck an emotional chord, with accounts of children screaming and crying in facilities prepared for them. A particularly harrowing account told of parents being informed that their child was being taken away for a bath - only to be told half an hour later that they would not see them again.

"The system has been broken for many years, the immigration system, it has been a really bad, bad system".

"I'd rather wait a day and pass it than rush it and not pass it", said Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., who supports the Ryan measure.

A 2015 court order now prevents the federal government from detaining children with their parents in detention centers for more than 20 days.

But passage of the House bill remains in doubt even after President Donald Trump met with lawmakers this week to support an immigration fix.

Both bills include language to end the controversial White House policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the border.

Democrats and Republicans had at least two bills crafted Wednesday to address broader immigration issues, but it was not clear if any had adequate support to pass.

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