- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2018

President Trump challenged Democrats to “come to the table” to fix the country’s immigration system, saying Monday that the current battle is over whether the U.S. should have borders.

Speaking at the White House Mr. Trump said the U.S. “will not be a migrant camp.”

He said if Congress can find agreement on a way to update what he called the “worst immigration laws in the entire world” it could be a trendsetting move for the rest of the globe.

“Just remember — a country without borders is not a country at all. We need borders, we need security, we need safety,” Mr. Trump said.

He is battling growing outrage over separation of children from their parents as the families attempt to jump the border and immigrate illegally.

Mr. Trump has blamed Democrats for the separation, saying he’s following laws and policies in place before he took office.

Democrats, though, say his zero tolerance policy of losing criminal charges against illegal immigrants has spurred the separations.

While entering the U.S. illegally has been a crime for decades, carrying penalties of six months in jail, it’s generally been ignored in favor of treating illegal immigration as a civil matter and attempting to deport those caught.

But it’s become tougher to deport people as they’ve learned to exploit parts of U.S. law that are more lenient on children and families, and on people who claim asylum — even if their case is shaky.

Now facing a new surge of illegal immigration, the Trump administration decided to turn to the criminal penalties to punish border-breakers.

Homeland Security says that if parents show up at legal ports of entry to claim asylum, they won’t be separated from their children. But if they jump the border, they will be separated while they sit in jail — as are U.S. citizens who are accused of crimes and who land in jail.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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