US lawmakers want to end ‘evil’ migrant family separations

WASHINGTON Democratic lawmakers vowed on Sunday to end the "evil" separation of migrant children from their parents at the US border, as First Lady Melania Trump made a rare political plea to end the controversial practice.

The "zero-tolerance" border security policy implemented by President Donald Trump's administration has sparked outrage on both sides of the political aisle as America celebrated Father's Day.

"They call it zero tolerance, but a better name for it is zero humanity, and there is zero logic to this policy," said Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, after leading a group of Democratic lawmakers to the Mexican border.

"It is completely unacceptable under any moral code or under any religious tradition to injure children, inflict trauma on them in order to send some political message to adults somewhere overseas."

After touring a converted Walmart supermarket that is now housing about 1,500 immigrant children, Mr Merkley said "hurting kids to get legislative leverage is unacceptable. It is evil."

The US government has said that during one recent six-week period, nearly 2,000 minors were separated from their parents or adult guardians - a figure that stoked the firestorm.

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee accused Mr Trump of lying by claiming he was following to the letter a previously existing law.

"The President is not telling the truth. There is no law, there is no policy that has allowed him to snatch children away from their families," she said.

Mrs Trump, who seldom wades into the political arena, opted to call for bipartisan immigration reform to fix the issue, rather than denounce the policy. - AFP