Donald Trump . Picture: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Donald Trump . Picture: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Trump on the brink as chaos worsens

DONALD Trump has fired back after an outpouring of emotion over family separations at the United States border that has seen his government repeatedly compared to the Nazis.

As his own supporters turn on him, the President stands firm, convinced he won the election on a promise of an immigration crackdown, and that is what Americans want.

But many insiders believe his policy of separating young children from their parents could be the nail in the coffin for the bullet-proof commander-in-chief.

He took to Twitter to reiterate his claim that the blame for America's border nightmare lay with Democrats, who he said wanted immigrants to "infest" the US.

Mr Trump insisted he had no choice but to criminally prosecute every adult crossing into the US from Mexico, meaning "you have to take children away".

As he prepared to head to Congress on Tuesday afternoon to debate the "zero tolerance" policy introduced in April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state will sue the Trump administration "for violating the Constitutional rights of immigrant children and their families who have been separated at the border."

The President early indicated he does not want to support either of two bills designed to move towards a solution to the family separation issue.

He instead wanted a bill that would guarantee funding to build his border wall, he told the National Federation of Independent Business.

Senior politicians suggested increasing the number of judges to speed up immigration hearings, but Mr Trump insisted it was security, not judges, that America needed.

More than 2000 children have been separated from their parents at the border in the past six weeks, and distressing audio recordings have emerged of youngsters crying for their parents. In the tape obtained by ProPublica, a Border Agent jokes in Spanish: "Well, we have an orchestra here. What's missing is a conductor."

World leaders, senior Democrats and Republicans, the United Nations and religious leaders have all spoken out against the damaging policy.

Governors across the US are now queuing up to state that they will not support it, with New York, Colorado and Massachusetts saying they will not provide troops to help secure the border - and Maryland recalling its soldiers.

"In the face of this ongoing human tragedy, let me be very clear: New York will not be party to this inhumane treatment of immigrant families," Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "We will not deploy National Guard to the border, and we will not be complicit in a political agenda that governs by fear and division."

Republican Senator John McCain condemned the practice in a statement on Monday, saying. "The administration's current family separation policy is an affront to the decency of the American people, and contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded.

"The administration has the power to rescind this policy. It should do so now."

The Mexican government has joined in the condemnation of the separation of families, with Luis Videgaray saying the nation did not support illegal immigration but "cannot remain indifferent in the face of something that clearly represents a violation of human rights."

Texan Congresswoman Sheila Lee told CNN she had been to the border and witnessed the horror herself. "Everyone has awakened with the cries and screams of these little ones," said the Democrat.

Holocaust survivor Yoka Verdoner was one of a growing chorus who have likened family separations to what happened at concentration camps. She told The Guardian the practice was "as evil and criminal as what happened to me and my siblings as children in Nazi Europe. It needs to be stopped immediately."

US Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue said: "Thousands of children are being forcibly removed from their parents by our government ... this is not who we are and it must stop now."

Trump supporters argue that children were still detained during the Obama administration, pointing to images of kids in cages from 2014, which were mistakenly described on Twitter as current last month.

The difference is that people were placed in family detention and released as early as possible. The kids pictured were unaccompanied minors waiting for housing. The situation still came in for fierce criticism, but the policy introduced in April by Mr Trump is far more hard line.

Unaccompanied minors are also an issue for this administration, with the government confessing it had lost 1500 children placed in homes or foster families, prompting the viral hashtag #wherearethechildren?

Still, the President does have close allies who loudly agree with his policies - and undoubtedly many more supporters quietly agreeing in front of their televisions.

In the face of calls for her resignation, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the administration would not apologise for doing its job, adding: "This administration has a simple message - if you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you."

Attorney-General Jeff Sessions said the administration must prosecute adults who "flout our laws" to come here illegally instead of waiting their turn or claiming asylum at any port of entry. "We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws," he said.

Trump adviser Stephen Miller told the New York Times: "All day long the American people are going to side with the party that wants to secure the border. And not by a little bit. Not 55-45. 60-40. 70-30. 80-20. I'm talking 90-10 on that."

But the figures suggest something else.

Two-thirds of Americans oppose the family separations. A CNN-SSRS poll revealed that even among those who approve of the job Mr Trump is doing as President, a quarter disapprove of the policy.

An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows that support for Mr Trump's immigration policies would make around half of voters oppose a candidate.

And six in 10 Americans were against the idea of a border wall, CBS News found.

His approval rating on immigration is lower than his approval on the economy and his overall approval among every group.

So immigration may not be the winning ticket Mr Trump believes. It could instead be his downfall.

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