Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, left, and White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short, right, arrive for a meeting with President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 19, 2018, as Trump rallies Republicans around a GOP immigration bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Latest: Pope criticizes separating families at border

June 20, 2018 - 8:59 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on immigration legislation (all times local):

8:30 a.m.

Pope Francis is criticizing the Trump administration's immigration policy, telling a news reporter earlier this week that he agrees with U.S. Catholic bishops that separating children from their parents at a border is "immoral."

Continuing his criticism Wednesday, he tweeted: "A person's dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity."

Trump's attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has quoted the Bible in defending the policy, which calls for every person who crosses the border illegally to be prosecuted and detained. The result has been more than 2,000 children detained without a guardian and no clear plan on how the families will be reunited.

Pope Francis told Reuters in a wide-ranging interview Sunday that he agrees with recent statements by U.S. Catholic bishops who called the separation of children from their parents "contrary to our Catholic values." He said "it's not easy, but populism is not the solution."

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6:15 a.m.

About a dozen protesters heckled Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen about the Trump administration's immigration policy as she ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington.

The protesters entered MXDC Cocina Mexicana Tuesday and chanted "Shame!" and "End family separation!"

In a video posted on Facebook by Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America, the protesters yelled, "if kids don't eat in peace, you don't eat in peace."

Nielsen paid her bill and left after about 10 or 15 minutes.

A department spokesman tweeted that during a work dinner, the secretary and her staff heard from a small group of protesters who "share her concern with our current immigration laws."

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1:09 a.m.

House Republican leaders searching for a way to tamp down the controversy over family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border are getting little clear direction from President Donald Trump.

Trump visited the Capitol on Tuesday to discuss immigration, and told House Republicans he is behind their rival immigration bills "1,000 percent." Whether Trump's support can push any immigration measure through the divided GOP majority remains a question.

Republican lawmakers are increasingly fearful of a voter backlash in November. They met with Trump with hopes of finding a solution that holds to his hard-line immigration policy and ends the practice of taking migrant children from parents charged with entering the country illegally.

As Trump left the session, a half-dozen House Democrats confronted him and yelled, "Stop separating our families!"

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