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North Korea, South Korea discuss reuniting divided families

Officials from North Korea and South Korea met Friday for talks to arrange reunions for families separated by the Korean War, Reuters reported.

>> Read more trending news

The meeting, held in Mount Kumgang, North Korea, comes after the two sides agreed in April that a reunion could mark a common national holiday in August.

The temporary reunions will be held at North Korea's Diamond Mountain resort from Aug. 20-26, Seoul's Unification Ministry said. The countries each will send 100 people to the reunions, The Independent reported.

The negotiations are part of the effort promised by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to improve relations between the two nations, Reuters reported.

Watch: Priest slaps crying baby during baptism ceremony 

It’s not unusual for a baby to cry during a baptism ceremony. What is strange is when a priest slaps the baby in an effort to quiet the child.

>> Read more trending news 

Reddit user posted video that shows a priest using his left hand to slap the baby. The user wrote “This happened today in France, I’m really shocked,” although an exact day and location was not specified.

The video, also posted on YouTube, has a French title that translates to “A priest slaps an infant during his baptism.”

IN the vdieo, the priest first attempts to comfort the baby, hugging the child. When that doesn’t work, the priest quickly slaps the baby.

The man and woman in the video -- either the child’s parents or godparents -- were taken aback by the priest’s action.

The man wrestles the child away from the priest as the video ends.

Burger King sorry for Russian ad offering free Whoppers to women impregnated by World Cup players

Several corporations have launched campaigns for the World Cup, but Burger King is being criticized for one many have called offensive and sexist.

On Tuesday, the Russian division of the fast-food chain announced a new promotion online that offered women $47,000 and a lifetime supply of Whoppers if they got impregnated by athletes competing in the series. 

>> Read more trending news 

“It is a reward for the girls who would get pregnant from the international football superstars,” read the campaign, which was posted on the Russian social media platform Vkontakte

Soon after it was uploaded, the company received backlash on Twitter.

Burger King later removed the advertisement, but it was still being posted by Russian social network users.

“We are sorry about the clearly offensive promotion that the team in Russia launched online,” Burger King said in a statement to The Associated Press, adding that the offer “does not reflect our brand or our values and we are taking steps to ensure this type of activity does not happen again.”

This isn’t the first time the Russian division of the company has been condemned. Last year, it depicted a 17-year-old rape victim in a “buy one burger get one free” ad. It was also taken down. 

Summer solstice 2018: What is the summer solstice and why is today the 'longest' one of the year?

If you are looking to soak up some sun, today would be the day to do it. 

Thursday marks the summer solstice, and for those in the Northern hemisphere, you will see more daylight than on any other day of the year. 

>>Read more trending news 

What is the summer solstice and what does that have to do with the longest day of the year? Here’s a quick look at what it means.

What is it?

The solstice happens when the sun reaches the highest point in the sky relative to the equator, meaning the Northern Hemisphere is tilted fully toward the sun. In fact, the North Pole is tilted far enough toward the sun to where the Arctic Circle will see 24 hours of daylight.

The sun reaches its northernmost point on Earth during the summer solstice. Do you know where that is? 

The sun will reach its northernmost point when it hits 23 degrees 27 minutes north latitude – in the Tropic of Cancer.

When does it do that?

In 2018, the solstice falls on Thursday at 6:07 a.m. EDT.

Wait, isn’t it on the same day every year?

The summer solstice happens each year between June 20-22. 

Why isn’t it on the same day every year? 

Blame it on math. The fact that the date floats is due, in part, to the difference between the Gregorian calendar system, which normally has 365 days, and the tropical year (how long it takes Earth to orbit the Sun one time), which is about 365.242199 days, according to The Farmer’s Almanac. 

The Georgian calendar adds a leap day every four years to make up for the extra .242199. The leap day, along with other factors, moves the summer solstice backward and forward on the calendar by a couple of days.

Why is it the longest day of the year?

It’s known as the longest day of the year not because it’s any longer than any other day, but because in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the day that receives the most hours of daylight. It receives the most sunlight because the Earth is tilted toward the sun for the longest time during a day.

If it is the longest day of the year and it’s summertime, why isn’t it the hottest day of the year?

It’s not the hottest day of the year because the Earth releases the energy it absorbs at various rates – but it never releases it instantly. On Thursday, the Earth will receive the most energy from the sun, but will release that energy in late July or August, usually. This effect, according to Weather Works, is called seasonal temperature lag. 

Pope Francis criticizes Trump administration for migrant family separations

Pope Francis criticized the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border in an interview published Wednesday by Reuters.

>> Read more trending news

“It’s not easy, but populism is not the answer,” he said.

The pope told Reuters that he agreed with statements made last week by Catholic bishops in America who called the family separation policy “immoral.” 

>> Clergy group brings church charges of child abuse, immorality against Jeff Sessions over zero-tolerance policy

“While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement released at the conference’s spring assembly. “Separating babies from their mothers is not the answers and is immoral.”

Francis told Reuters that he is “on the side of the bishops’ conference.”

>> Recording of crying immigrant children separated from parents at border sparks outrage

“I believe that you cannot reject people who arrive,” he said, speaking about the migrant crisis that has sent hundreds of thousands of people into Europe. “You have to receive them, help them, look after them, accompany them and then see where to put them, but throughout Europe.”

He said that populists have been “creating psychosis” around the issue of immigration.

“Populism does not resolve things,” he said. “What resolves things is acceptance, study, prudence.”

>> Immigration: Babies and children held in 'tender age' shelters according to report

The Trump administration in April directed prosecutors to pursue cases against all people suspected of crossing the border illegally as part of a “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy. Parents have been separated from their children as they face prosecution.

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that Democrats are to blame for laws that mandate the family separations, however, no law requiring the separations exists.

Ex-Trump aide Corey Lewandowski reacts to story of immigrant girl with Down syndrome: 'Womp womp'

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is under fire for his reaction to the story of an immigrant girl with Down syndrome during a Tuesday appearance on Fox News.

>> Recording of crying immigrant children separated from parents at border sparks outrage

Lewandowski's controversial comments came as he and panelist Zac Petkanas, a Democratic strategist, discussed the separation of immigrant children and parents at the United States' border with Mexico.

"I read today about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was taken from her mother and put in a cage," Petkanas began before Lewandowski responded, "Womp womp."

>> Watch the clip here

>> All 5 living first ladies speak out on separation of immigrant children, parents at border

"Did you say 'womp womp' to a 10-year-old with Down syndrome being taken from her mother?" Petkanas replied angrily. "How dare you. How dare you. How absolutely dare you!"

The clip quickly circulated on Twitter, sparking outrage and condemnation from celebrities and public figures.

>> Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy: 4 things to know

“There is no low to which this coward Corey Lewandowski won’t sink,” former Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who now hosts NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today,” tweeted. “This man should not be afforded a national platform to spew his hate.”

Conservative commentator Meghan McCain, daughter of Republican Sen. John McCain, tweeted: “This is so horrible, even by Lewandowski standards.”  

>> Read more trending news 

According to CNN, Luis Videgaray, Mexico's foreign minister, said in a news conference earlier Tuesday that the story of the girl, who is Mexican, was "particularly painful." After reaching the border, she and her brother were placed in a different detention facility from their mother, Videgaray said. Mexican officials are pushing for the girl to be released to her father, who legally resides in Texas.

Read more here.

Immigration: Babies and children held in 'tender age' shelters according to report

Top Republicans responded Tuesday to the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border, a “zero tolerance” policy implemented six weeks ago. Many Republicans responded publicly to the harsh criticism over the policy, saying they support keeping migrant children and parents together.

>> Read more trending news

Update 11:07 p.m. EDT June 19: Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas, according to The Associated Press

Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the Rio Grande Valley shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis. The government also plans to open a fourth shelter to house hundreds of young migrant children in Houston, where city leaders denounced the move Tuesday.

The three centers -- in Combes, Raymondville and Brownsville -- have been rapidly repurposed to serve needs of children including some under 5. A fourth, planned for Houston, would house up to 240 children in a warehouse previously used for people displaced by Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

Update 10:00 p.m. EDT June 19: The growing backlash against the Trump administration’s immigration policy is expanding as tech workers take a stand in Silicon Valley.

Microsoft workers are demanding the tech giant end its relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the wake of the forced separation of families at the U.S. southern border.

Some 100 Microsoft employees signed an open letter that calls for the company to sever its ties with ICE, according to The New York Times.

“We believe that Microsoft must take an ethical stand, and put children and families above profits,” employees said in the letter.

The letter was addressed to Microsoft chief executive, Satya Nadella.

Microsoft has a contract with ICE worth more than $19 million “for processing data and artificial intelligence,” the Times reported

Axios reported the letter demanded three things: Cancel its contract with ICE, create a public policy stating that "neither Microsoft nor its contractors will work with clients who violate international human rights law,” and commit to "transparency and review regarding contracts between Microsoft and government agencies, in the US and beyond."

Update 8:30 p.m. EDT June 19: Protests unfolded in several U.S. cities Tuesday against the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which has resulted in the separation of at least 2,000 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border over the past six weeks.

In New York, opponents of the policy marched from Union Square to Lower Manhattan, demanding an end to the separation policy.

In San Francisco, protesters marched to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building, demanding that the agency stop separating children from their parents at the border.

Protesters also gathered in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square to protest the administration’s immigration policy during an appearance by Vice President Mike Pence at a GOP fundraiser.

Update 6:30 p.m. EDT June 19: As President Donald Trump meets with Congressional Republicans this hour over immigration, it’s unclear whether lawmakers can agree on immigration legislation and whether the meeting will address the controversial policy of separating undocumented families at the U.S. border.

Trump is reportedly urging House Republicans to pass “the compromise bill and the Goodlatte bill,” according to The Hill, which is citing GOP sources.

Senior Trump administration officials are doubling down on the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, calling out opponents of the plan, according to a new statement, the Huff Post reported on Twitter.

“The administration’s zero tolerance policy is a response to a humanitarian crisis brought about by loopholes in federal immigration law that encourage human trafficking and smuggling. As a result of these loopholes, the only two options for the U.S. government are to either release into the country illegally all illegal Central American migrants who show up at our border with a minor, or to prosecute them for illegal entry. There is no policy of family separation,” the statement said.

“The Trump administration has repeatedly asked Congress to give us the authority to detain families together and promptly return families together. Members of Congress who are pushing to give immunity for child smuggling will only increase the crisis ten-fold.”

The statement urges Congress to close the loopholes so the government can return “illegal alien families in a fair, expeditious and humane fashion.”

Update 4:42 p.m. EDT June 19: An undocumented child with Down syndrome was separated from her parents while illegally trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The 10-year-old girl was separated from her parents, even though her father is a legal U.S. resident, and sent to an immigration facility in McAllen, Texas, the Journal reported, while her mother was sent to a facility in Brownsville. The separation occurred while the mother was trying to get the girl and her brother across the border.   

The newspaper learned of the situation after an interview with Mexico’s Foreign Prime Minister Luis Videgaray.

During a speech at a small business event Tuesday, Trump blamed Mexico for contributing to the crisis at the U.S. southern border, saying the Mexican government could help end the stream of people traveling to the U.S. if it wanted to. 

Update 3:09 p.m. EDT June 19: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Tuesday that Republicans support creating a plan to keep migrant children and parents together amid criticism of a Trump administration policy that separates families suspected of coming into the country illegally at the border.

“I … and all of the other senators of the Republican conference support a plan that keeps families together,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

Sen. Orin Hatch, R-Utah, has passed a letter around to colleagues calling on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop separating families, The Hill reported.

“I’m asking for a pause,” Hatch said. “I think we ought to pause and look at this very carefully.”

Update 2:07 p.m. EDT June 19: A pair of Florida Democrats was barred Tuesday from going inside a Miami-area facility housing immigrant children as the national debate raged around the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from parents at the border.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wassermn Schultz and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson attempted to enter the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children Tuesday, but Wasserman Schultz said they were told that they needed to put in a request to visit the facility two weeks ahead of time.

The lawmakers said that they were told by the company that runs the facility that they would be able to visit Tuesday, but they were stopped by the a representative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“This is not a good day for our country, where a U.S. senator and a U.S. congressman have been turned away from a federal facility because the Trump administration does not want us to check on the welfare and the care of the children inside -- children who have been taken from their moms and dads,” Nelson said.

Update 1:30 p.m. EDT June 19: President Donald Trump once again blamed laws passed by Democrats for his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from parents suspected of coming into the country illegally while speaking Tuesday at a meeting of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Trump said the policy is necessary because loopholes in the immigration laws mean families “cannot  be detained together or removed together, only released.”

“These are crippling loopholes that cause family separations,” Trump said. “Child smugglers exploit the loopholes and they gain illegal entry into the United States, putting countless children in danger.”

There is no law that mandates the separation of children and parents at the border.

“We've got to stop the separation of the families, but politically correct or not we have a country that needs safety, that needs security, that has to be protected,” Trump said. “We don’t want people pouring into our country, we want them to come in through the process, through the legal system and we want ultimately a merit-based system where people come in based on merit.”

Update 11:40 a.m. EDT June 19: More than 20 state attorneys general are calling for an end to the Trump administration’s immigration policy, which has led to children being separated from their parents at the border and has sparked national outrage.

The 21 Democratic state attorneys general, from states including Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington, sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

“Put simply, the deliberate separation of children and their parents who seek lawful asylum in America is wrong,” the attorneys general said in the letter. “This practice is contrary to American values and must be stopped. We demand that you immediately reverse these harmful policies in the best interests of the children and families affected.”

The group is led by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, who on Tuesday called the immigration policy “inhumane” and “draconian.”

“The Justice Department is ignoring its legal and moral obligations for the sake of a political agenda at the expense of children and the efforts of state law enforcement officials,” Balderas said. “The latest move to unnecessarily separate families is cruel and another example of this administration putting politics ahead of people.”

Update 10:15 a.m. EDT June 19: President Donald Trump insisted on Twitter that “Democrats are the problem” in the immigration debate as criticism of his administration’s policy of separating children from parents at the border continues.

Trump wrote Tuesday morning that Democrats “don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.”

The president has blamed Democrats for the recent surge in family separations, saying that laws need to be changed in order to change the separation policy.

>> Recording of crying immigrant children separated from parents at border sparks outrage

“Now is the best opportunity ever for Congress to change the ridiculous and obsolete laws on immigration,” Trump said Tuesday in a tweet with the hashtag #CHANGETHELAWS.

 

There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border.

The president also wrote Tuesday morning that “if you don’t have Borders, you don’t have a Country,” and reiterated a claim that crime has risen in Germany since the country started accepting migrants, despite government numbers that show crime at its lowest rate since 1992.

Update 9:44 a.m. EDT June 19: The executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund called stories of children being separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s immigration policy “heartbreaking,” saying in a statement Monday that “such practices are in no one’s best interests, least of all the children who suffer their effects.”

“Detention and family separation are traumatic experiences that can leave children more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and can create toxic stress which, as multiple studies have shown, can impact children’s long-term development,” said Henrietta Fore, an American who has headed UNICEF since earlier this year.

She noted that the U.S. government has long supported UNICEF’s efforts to help uprooted children in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia and Haiti.

>> Clergy group brings church charges of child abuse, immorality against Jeff Sessions over zero-tolerance policy

“Children -- no matter where they come from or what their migration status -- are children first and foremost,” she said. “I hope that the best interests of refugee and migrant children will be paramount in the application of U.S. asylum procedures and laws.”

Update 8:40 a.m. EDT June 19: Sen. John McCain called the Trump administration’s family separation policy “an affront to the decency of the American people” in a tweet Monday night.

The Arizona Republican said the policy is “contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded.”

“The administration has the power to rescind this policy,” he wrote. “It should do so now.”

>> Is the immigration separation policy new, where did it come from, where are the detention centers?

McCain is among a growing number of Republican lawmakers voicing concern over the administration's "zero tolerance" approach to illegal border crossings. Under the policy, all unlawful crossings are referred for prosecution. With adults detained and facing prosecution, any minors accompanying them are taken away.

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May.

Update 7:15 p.m. EDT June 18: The nonprofit news organization ProPublica released an eight minute audio recording of wailing children, who were separated from their parents last week.

>> All 5 living first ladies speak out on separation of immigrant children, parents at border

A U.S. border patrol agent can be heard laughing in the background as the 10 children from Central America are separated from their families.

Update 6:00 p.m. EDT June 18: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, during a briefing Monday afternoon, said there’s nothing new about the current policy of separating undocumented children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

>> Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy: 4 things to know

"This entire crisis is not new, Nielsen said, pointing to "loopholes" in federal immigration laws from the past, but that could change this week with the introduction of several immigration measures in the U.S. House and Senate, including one from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz is expected to introduce the “Protect Kids and Parents Act,” according to news reports. The measure would double the number of federal immigration judges from 375 to 750. It would authorize new temporary shelters to better accommodate families. 

The bill would mandate that immigrant families remain together, unless there’s criminal conduct or a threat to the children, and it would require that asylum cases are heard within 14 days of application.  

Update 5:35 p.m. EDT June 18:  The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, addressed the growing backlash over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy at the southern U.S. border, which is separating undocumented children from their parents. Nielsen defended the policy and urged 

Congress to fix the system and close the loopholes.

>> Before Trump policy, immigrant families arrested at the border were detained together

Update 5:30 p.m. EDT June 18: Two more first ladies have weighed in on the widening controversy over the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the southern U.S. border. Michelle Obama retweeted comments Laura Bush made that Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.”

>> Trump border policy: How to help immigrant children separated from families

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter also released a statement Monday, according to The New York Times. "The practice and policy today of removing children from their parents' care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country," Carter said.

Update 4:30 p.m. EDT June 18: The Department of Health and Human Services has released photos of the “tent city” in the Texas border outpost of Tornillo, just outside of El Paso, where the U.S. government is sending children separated from their parents at the border. There are already dozens of children at the facility, according to news reports.

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT June 18: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, called Monday for the resignation of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen amid the ongoing debate over the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

The demand came one day after Nielsen said in a tweet that, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.”

Nielsen echoed President Donald Trump’s claims that a law is behind the recent spike in separations of migrant children and their parents at the border.

“We will not apologize for enforcing the laws passed by Congress,” Nielsen said. “We are a nation of laws. We are asking Congress to change the laws.”

However, as Harris and numerous fact checkers have noted, there is no law that mandates the separation of children and parents at the border.

Harris said in a statement Monday that Nielsen’s “misleading statements ... are disqualifying.”

“We must speak the truth,” Harris said. “There is no law that says the Administration has to rip children from their families. This Administration can and must reverse course now and it can and must find new leadership for the Department of Homeland Security.”

Update 2:30 p.m. June 18: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that President Donald Trump is telling an “outright lie” when he claims that Democrats are behind the recent surge in separations of children from their parents on the border.

“This is not happening because of the 'Democrats' law,' as the White House has claimed,” Clinton said. “Separating families is not mandated by law at all.”

Clinton, who ran as a Democrat against Trump during the 2016 presidential election, also appeared to chastise U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who cited a Bible verse last week while justifying the Trump administration’s immigration policy.

“Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenant of Christianity,” Clinton said. “Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little children unto me.’ He did not say, ‘Let the children suffer.’”

Update 2 p.m. EDT June 18: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush urged President Donald Trump to end the policy that’s allowed authorities to separate migrant children from their parents on the border, writing Monday on Twitter that "children shouldn't be used as a negotiating tool.”

“(Trump) should end this heartless policy and Congress should get an immigration deal done that provides for asylum reform, border security and a path to citizenship for Dreamers,” he wrote.

The president has repeatedly called for Democrats to negotiate with Republicans to address illegal immigration after falsely claiming that the party is behind laws that mandate the separation of child from parent at the border. No such law exists. 

Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, ran against Trump in 2016 for the Republican presidential nomination.

In an op-ed published Sunday by the Washington Post, former first lady Laura Bush called the Trump administration policy “cruel.”

"I live in a border state," Bush wrote. "I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart."

First lady Melania Trump has also criticized the policy, telling CNN in a statement through her spokeswoman that “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”

Update 12:46 p.m. EDT June 18: President Donald Trump again accused Democrats of obstructing efforts to deal with illegal immigration and the separation of children and parents at the border, telling reporters Monday that “we’re stuck with these horrible laws” because Democrats refuse to sit down with Republicans.

There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border.

“We have the worst immigration laws in the entire world,” Trump said. “Nobody has such sad, such bad – and in many cases, such horrible and tough – you see about child separation. You see what’s going on there.”

“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” Trump said.

Update 12 p.m. EDT June 18: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday said authorities don’t want to separate children from their families but that officials have a duty to prosecute people who illegally cross the border.

“When we ignore our laws at the border we obviously encourage hundreds of thousands of people a year to likewise ignore our laws and illegally enter our country, creating an enormous burden on our law enforcement, our schools, our hospitals and (our) social programs,” Sessions said Monday during the National Sheriffs’ Association Annual Conference in New Orleans.

He framed the issue as a debate over “whether we want to be a country of laws or whether we want to be a country without borders.”

“President Trump has said this cannot continue,” Sessions said. “We do not want to separate parents from their children. If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices. We will have a system where those who need to apply for asylum can do so and those who want to come to this country will apply legally.”

Sessions’ arguments echoed those of President Donald Trump, who has blamed Democrats for passing laws that he said led to the separations.

There are no laws mandating the separation of children and parents at the border.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said earlier Monday that officials will not apologize for enforcing immigration laws.

"We have to do our job," she said.

Original report: President Donald Trump defended his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy on Monday, writing in a series of tweets that children are being used “by the worst criminals on earth” to get into America as critics slammed the policy for separating children from their parents.

“Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country,” Trump wrote. “Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.”

The president pointed to a rise in crime in Germany as an example of the chaos caused by illegal immigration, writing in a tweet that it was a “big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture.”

However, Germany’s internal ministry reported last month that criminal offenses in the country were at their lowest since 1992, according to Reuters.

This spring, the Trump administration ordered prosecutors to charge every person illegally crossing the border. Children traveling with the adults have been separated and placed in detention centers, prompting protests nationwide.

The president has blamed Democrats for not fixing the law that allows for the separations.

“Tell them to start thinking about the people devastated by Crime coming from illegal immigration,” the president wrote. “Change the laws!”

Despite his claim that Democrats are at fault for the situation, The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration “put the policy in place and could easily end it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Recording of crying immigrant children separated from parents at border sparks outrage

A recording of crying immigrant children who reportedly were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border circulated online Monday, sparking outrage among critics of the Trump administration's controversial "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration.

>> Click here to listen

>> Jamie Dupree: Trump to meet House GOP amid furor over immigrant families

The eight-minute audio clip, first published Monday by ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative news site, was recorded at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection center last week, the outlet reported. Children can be heard calling for "Mami" and "Papa" as one girl asks to call her aunt. One man, identified by ProPublica as a Border Patrol agent, can be heard saying of the sobs: "Well, we have an orchestra here. What's missing is a conductor."

>> Immigration: Trump administration defends 'zero tolerance' policy (live updates)

According to ProPublica, the person who secretly recorded the audio gave it to civil rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who then passed it along to the news site.

>> All 5 living first ladies speak out on separation of immigrant children, parents at border

According to The Associated Press, the "zero tolerance" policy, which started last month, "sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally," leading to more adults in jail, separated from their children. 

>> Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy: 4 things to know

At a White House press briefing Monday afternoon, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she had not heard the recording, which one reporter played on speaker phone during the briefing. She said the children are treated humanely and given meals, education and medical care. 

>> Read more trending news 

Nielsen said recordings and photos from the border facilities that have circulated online "reflect the focus of those who post such pictures and narratives."

Read more here and here.

All 5 living first ladies speak out on separation of immigrant children, parents at border

Every living first lady has weighed in on the separation of immigrant children and parents at the United States' border with Mexico.

>> Immigration: Trump administration defends 'zero tolerance' policy (live updates)

Here are the latest updates:

Update 7:17 a.m. EDT June 19: Former first ladies Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Rosalynn Carter are reacting to the separation of immigrant children and their parents at the border.

On Monday afternoon, Obama retweeted former first lady Laura Bush, who criticized the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration in a Washington Post op-ed Sunday.

“Sometimes truth transcends party,” Obama wrote in agreement with Bush.

>> Read the tweet here

Former Democratic presidential nominee, Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton had a lengthier response, speaking about the policy to the Women’s Forum of New York and later tweeting her remarks.

 “What’s happening to families at the border right now is a humanitarian crisis. Every parent who has ever held a child in their arms, every human being with a sense of compassion and decency, should be outraged,” she tweeted Monday afternoon. “Despite what this White House claims, separating families is not mandated by law. That is an outright lie, and it’s incumbent on all of us – journalists and citizens alike – to call it just that.”

She continued: “Those who selectively use the Bible to justify this cruelty are ignoring a central tenet of Christianity. Jesus said ‘Suffer the little children unto me.’ He did not say ‘let the children suffer.’”

>> Read the Twitter thread here

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter also issued a statement slamming the policy as “disgraceful.”

“When I was first lady, I worked to call attention to the plight of refugees fleeing Cambodia for Thailand,” her statement read. “I visited Thailand and witnessed firsthand the trauma of parents and children separated by circumstances beyond their control. The practice and policy today of removing children from their parents’ care at our border with Mexico is disgraceful and a shame to our country.”

>> Read the statement here

Original report: Two first ladies are weighing in on the separation of immigrant children and parents at the United States' border with Mexico.

>> Five undocumented immigrants dead after chase with Border Patrol, officials say

Former first lady Laura Bush criticized the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration as "cruel" in a Washington Post op-ed Sunday.

>> Read the piece here

"I live in a border state," Bush wrote. "I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart."

According to The Associated Press, the policy, which started last month, "sought to maximize criminal prosecutions of people caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally," leading to more adults in jail, separated from their children. 

>> Reports: 1,500 immigrant children missing, feds say they’re not responsible

"Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso," Bush continued. "These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history."

She added: "In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can."

>> Read more trending news 

First lady Melania Trump also shared her thoughts on the issue Sunday.

"Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform," said her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, according to CNN. "She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

23-foot python swallows woman whole, reports say

A 54-year-old Indonesian woman is dead after villagers say a 23-foot python swallowed her whole.

>> Severed rattlesnake head bites Texas man

According to The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, Wa Tiba of Muna Island disappeared Thursday after leaving her village, Persiapan Lawela, to tend to her garden. The next day, searchers discovered a "snake with a bloated belly" and some of Tiba's things near the garden, said the village's chief, known by the single name Faris, the AP reported.

Faris said villagers killed the python and cut it open, the AP reported. They then "found Tiba's body still intact with all her clothes," Faris said.

Graphic photos and videos posted online appeared to show the woman's body being extracted from the dead python.

>> Read more trending news 

This isn't the first time a python has swallowed a person in Indonesia, where such snakes are common, AFP reported. A farmer died under similar circumstances in March 2017 on the island of Sulawesi, according to the news service.

Read more here or here.

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