"Now, we don't have to prosecute them, but then we're not prosecuting them for coming in illegally".
In a speech Tuesday to small-business owners in Washington, Trump stood defiant amid intense criticism across the political spectrum about his administration's policy of separating children from their parents and other adults at the southern border with Mexico as they illegally enter the United States.
A number of Republican senators called on Trump on Tuesday to allow families to stay together if they had crossed the border illegally, and Senate leaders said their chamber could have legislation to address the family separations matter in a matter of days.
"The time is now for the White House to end the cruel, tragic separations of families", Sen.
The lobbying organization, which represents big businesses, typically supports Republican Party candidates.
Photos and video have shown children in cages or without beds as they beg for their parents.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said the government must prosecute "adults who flout our laws" and added that if the U.S. builds a wall, the country won't have to separate kids and parents.
At the federal courthouse in McAllen on Monday, some among the estimated 80 immigrants preparing to plead guilty on immigration charges asked the judge questions such as, "What's going to happen to my daughter?" and "What will happen to my son?" Of these, 10,000 were sent across the border unaccompanied, according to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. "What we are saying today is President Trump, cease and desist", added the Democrat. "They could stop it".
Mr. Trump also once again blamed Democrats for his own policy.
Steven Wagner, a Trump appointee at HHS, said on Tuesday, "I don't know how many separated kids have been placed or reunited with parents". Every Democrat in the U.S. Senate, even those who face hard bids for re-election in Trump-friendly states, have signed onto a bill that would overturn the family separation policy.
TRUMP: "Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!"
Republican members have been whipsawed by the President's latest tantrum-driven policies on immigration and were hoping he'd give them more specific policy guidance - especially those facing tough re-election who are panicked at the backlash against his newfound policy of tearing children from their asylum-seeking parents.
See images of two of the centres holding migrants to the U.S.
But if it comes to that, Hurd said he was "sure" that a piece of standalone legislation on the issue "would get north of 300 votes". Migrant advocates announced they would rally outside the federal courthouse in Phoenix on Monday afternoon to protest the policy.
The border is far away for most of us, this is a new policy implemented by the Trump administration over the past six weeks, and they are muddying the waters on what they're doing and why.
With backlash over his "zero tolerance" immigration policy intensifying, President Trump went to Capitol Hill Tuesday to meet with House Republicans about immigration reform.