'Donald Trump has defended his controversial zero tolerance immigration policy, saying he will not allow the US to become a “migrant camp” – even as activists claimed separating children from their families was “nothing short of torture”.
The president has been been under mounting criticism after it emerged that at least 2,000 young people had been taken from their families since the introduction last month of a new immigration policy, under attorney general Jeff Sessions, that criminally charged everybody apprehended illegally crossing the border. This has been the policy adopted even for those people seeking asylum.
Over the weekend, images emerged of the facilities where these migrant children, mostly from Central America, are being held. One facility near El Paso, Texas, was a “tent city”, while photographs from another camp near McAllen, also in the Lone Star State, showed chain link fences, mattresses on the floor and families queueing to be processed.
Speaking at the White House, Mr Trump was defiant, saying “the United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility. It won’t be”.
He added: “You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places – we can’t allow that to happen to the United States, not on my watch.”
The weight of criticism against the policy, which Mr Trump has wrongly sought to blame on the previous administration, has included former first lady Laura Bush and numerous religious leaders. Mr Sessions’ church in Alabama has condemned the policy as “unjust”, while over the weekend Mr Trump’ wife, Melania, said she “hates to see children separated from their families”.'
Read more: Trump says US will not become 'migrant camp' as Amnesty says his policy of separating families is 'nothing short of torture'