US immigration and child separation policy continues to spark backlash

The Trump administration insists that separating families is not a policy, but a requirement of enforcing the law to prosecute adults who cross the border illegally.
8:08 | 06/20/18

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Transcript for US immigration and child separation policy continues to spark backlash
Do you agree we need to take care of those children? We are taking care of those children. Your tax dollars -- Reporter: From town halls to capitol hill. Child internment carps, that's what I said. Reporter: As the trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy comes under fire. Many up in arms as children are forcibly separated from their parents. I support a plan that keeps families together while their immigration status is determined. Reporter: Seemingly all sides of the political spectrum united in what many say is a moral crisis unfolding on the southwest border. Reporter: Voices like this little girl's heard in a recording. Mommy! Reporter: Providing a glimpse into the consequences of the directive issued in April. The 6-year-old girl pleading repeatedly for someone to call her aunt. She is reportedly one of more than 2,300 children now separated from their parents. Some of these families fleeing violence, economic hardship in their native countries. When I talk to these mothers and I say to them, would you have come here if you would have known your child was going to be taken away? They throw up their arms and say, what choice did I have? If I stayed in my country, I might have been killed, my son might have been killed. So it's essentially gratuitous cruelty. Reporter: This facility, we just finished a tour inside the facility, it was almost overwhelming. Our cameras were not permitted. Cages, chain link fences shown in these images released by U.S. Customs and border protection of one of the largest processing centers. This one housing more than 1,000 immigrants, many of those children, wrapped in Mylar blankets to stay warm. Some families could be separated here or at another facility. It doesn't matter how good the facility is, the harm is done by the separation. A 3-year-old ripped from their parents isn't going to say, okay, I'm fine because I have a coloring book. They're going to be asking, where is my mommy? Every single night. Loud and clear immigrants are welcome here! Reporter: In the border town of El Paso where the effects of immigration policy are keenly felt, families in solidarity with the ones being torn apart. The building of the wall is not something that we want. The denying of due process to the people who are coming in, the denying of due process to the children that are being detained in cages. This is heartbreaking to us. Reporter: My colleague geo Benitez was there. As a mother what do you tell your kids when they see these pictures on television? That we're very lucky and we have to stand up for people that don't have voices. Reporter: Faith leaders responded in Washington. This practice ends today, right now, without hesitation, without another statement, it ends right now! Reporter: That moral responsibility shared by some in Washington. What country is that? This is the United States of America! Reporter: Representative Elijah Cummings visibly emotional. We need you to remind him that this is the United States of America. It is a great country. We need you to stand up and for those children. Reporter: Senator Bob Menendez playing sounds of those crying children on the senate floor. How do you submit the cries of innocent children to the congressional record? Reporter: Members from the president's own party saying a more prominent fix is needed. A lot of us have said publicly we'd like to see this fixed. That I don't think this is going to age well over time. We'll see where the administration comes out. I don't think anybody likes to see these images or the reality of children being separated from their parents. Reporter: The white house says the president doesn't want a quick fix, he wants immigration reform, and his wall. Today, doubling down on his policy. I don't want children taken away from parents. And when you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away. Reporter: Once again pushing the false claim that separating children at the border is required by law. There is no law that mandates that when a family is captured by border patrol as they cross the border, that children should be separated from their parents. There is a law, a criminal law, against illegal border crossing. But it's a question of priority. We don't arrest everybody for every minor offense. Try and think of another place in the United States, any state or federal misdemeanor law, where there's zero discretion and they say, we're going to put someone in jail for this misdemeanor even if it means we send a child to foster care. That never happens. Reporter: Tonight the president had a closed-door meeting with house Republicans who are preparing to vote on two bills to address the crisis. President trump reportedly telling them his daughter ivanka showed him images of children in detention facilities and encouraged him to end the policy. The president did put his policing behind a moderate bill that would increase border wall finding, provide political status to dreamers, and put a stop to family separations. Even if the president was scattered in this meeting tonight, house Republicans say they are taking his words and running with them. Now it's their job to pass this bill. Reporter: But insiders saying to some Republicans there's zero sense of whether the bills will pass and what exactly the president wants. Earlier today I joined border patrol agent Ken cruppa for a ride-along. We're going to work toward the south side of Laredo. Reporter: Political climate aside, they have a job to do. We're here to protect the people of our country. When you talk about down here on the border, you never know what the threat is. Reporter: He brought us toward the Rio grande, an area emblematic of the complexities of the border. Some make the desperate journey seeking safe haven. Others try crossing it to traffic drugs. Sometimes it's sad to see these people that are put in danger, they pay all this money to smugglers and thinking they're coming here to get a better life, but they get put in positions where it's dangerous to cross the river, people drown all the time. You all are on the front line. When we encounter a family in the field, first thing we make sure everybody's okay, they get the attention they need. Food, water, anything like that medical attention if they need it. Then once they're secure, we'll transport them to our processing center where they'll be interviewed, they'll be talked to, debriefed, then establish the correct path forward with processing those individuals and those families. Is it easy for you to do that kind of thing? Um -- I mean, it's a required process. It's our job. Um -- when it comes down to it, that's the most important thing. Reporter: We get a tip about a potential stash house. We're heading to a residence based on the information provided. Agents have reason to believe there's additional illegal aliens inside that residence. Is there anybody in the back? Reporter: The seven men are under investigation and we don't know what brought them over the border. Line them up on the wall or something. Reporter: But immigration advocates say that most who cross border illegally are doing so to seek safety. What's happened under this administration is the attempt to dehumanize immigrants and make it seem like they're all hardcore criminals, all members of gangs. I mean, what we always ask people, think about the immigrant you know. Think about the immigrant who you work with, live next to. Reporter: Tonight as more undocumented families face detention and the possibility their children will be taken from them, advocates are taking their battle to court. The aclu among others have filed a lawsuit asking for a nationwide injunction. Ending this policy and reuniting families. We're pushing back. So I think it showed the administration that they couldn't just do whatever they wanted. That there were lines that people would say, no, enough is enough, and it won't matter whether you're liberal or conservative. I think people are pushing, especially parents, thinking about if their 3-year-old or 4-year-old were in this situation and they're saying,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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