Trump threatens shutdown over wall, immigration

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Executive Associate Director of Enforcement And Removal Operations Matthew Albence testifies as the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the Trump administration's policies on immigration enforcement

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Trump tweeted Sunday: "I would be willing to "shut down" government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!"

Several government officials have said that the president is using zero tolerance as a bargaining chip to garner support for the border wall, as well as the tightening of immigration laws - such as catch and release and the visa lottery - despite the fact that Republicans control both houses of Congress. He did acknowledge, however, that the border funding issue was unlikely to be resolved before the midterm elections.

Trump campaigned on the promise of building a wall to deter illegal immigration and making Mexico pay for it. Mexico has refused, leading Trump to look to USA taxpayers to fund the endeavor instead, at least for now.

Trump has gotten some wall money from Congress, and likely will get more, though the total is well short of the $25 billion he has requested.

The Trump administration instituted a "zero tolerance" immigration enforcement policy in an effort to deter families trying to enter the country illegally.

WASHINGTON - Immigration officials defended the integrity of their agencies' handling of family separations at the border, with one witness telling a Senate panel Tuesday that Border Patrol agents don't leave their "humanity behind when we report for duty".

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US President Donald Trump returns to the White House holding his granddaughter Arabella's hand after spending a weekend in Bedminster, NJ on July 29, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Congress is working toward a September 30 deadline to fund the federal government or risk shuttering agencies a month before the midterm election.

White's remarks came as the Judiciary committee questioned officials about what has become an election-year liability for the Republicans and the White House - President Donald Trump's separation of migrant children from detained families.

Trump has asked for $25bn (£19bn) to build the wall. "I don't think we're going to shut down the government", he said to Martha Raddatz on Sunday. The Senate Appropriations Committee, she said, was making progress and working "closely" with the administration.

The $5 billion is well above the $1.6 billion in the Senate version of the bill, which would finance the Department of Homeland Security.

The two officials and the congressional aide spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations.

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Trump met at the White House last week with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump said on Twitter. The top members of the Judiciary committee - Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. - have asked inspectors general of two federal agencies to investigate reports by news organizations that immigrants at some centers have suffered alleged sexual and other forms of abuse. Nita Lowey of NY and California's Lucille Roybal-Allard - called the $5 billion a waste that "only further enables this administration's obsession with cruel attacks on immigrants".

One official told the Senate Judiciary Committee that while the Trump administration was developing its immigration policies, Health and Human Services officials said they were anxious "about any policy which would result in family separation due to concerns we had about the best interests of the child".

McConnell says the Senate is taking steps toward "funding the government in a timely and orderly manner".

Tuesday's hearing was a wide-ranging inquiry into immigration enforcement practices and the administration's attempt to deter illegal border crossings by removing more than 2,500 children from their parents and sending them to government shelters.

When San Diego-based US District Judge Dana Sabraw ordered the administration to temporarily pause deportations of reunited families earlier this month, a government attorney invited the judge to visit a Department of Health and Human Services facility caring for children.

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