Hillary joins first ladies' push against Trump's immigration policy

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway attends a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Conway on Sunday

President Donald Trump emphatically defended his administration's policy Monday, again falsely blaming Democrats.

"I visited Thailand and witnessed firsthand the trauma of parents and children separated by circumstances beyond their control".

"That is no different than a U.S. citizen parent that is going through a judicial process, prosecuted for violating the law", Manuel Padilla Jr. of U.S. Border Patrol said of parents being separated from their children.

"Look, he watches the show".

In one incident that highlighted the crisis, five immigrants died and several others were injured after a high-speed chase with Border Patrol agents in Texas ended in a crash, United States media said.

"If the Democrats would sit down, instead of obstructing, we could have something done very quickly", he said.

Meanwhile, the cycle of congressional inaction has begun. "Separating families is not mandated by law at all". Senate Democrats are rallying behind a bill that would set strict limits on family separations, but so far the measure hasn't attracted any Republican support.

"To echo the Congressman's statement, Congressman Harris supports the construction of new facilities so families can stay together", spokeswoman Jacque Clark said. When they are charged by the government, the children are taken away with only a hotline number for the parents to later use to track them down.

KELLY: We will have to separate your family.

Trump, whose promise to crack down on illegal immigration was a major theme of his 2016 campaign and one he has carried into his presidency, responded sharply to critics on Monday.

Mr Trump plans to meet with House Republicans on Tuesday to discuss pending immigration legislation amid an election-season debate over an issue that helped vault the NY real estate mogul into the Oval Office in 2016. But separations have spiked under the new policy - nearly 2,000 minors over one six-week period, according to the administration. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) wrote in a lengthy Facebook post Monday morning.

"Congress and the courts created this problem, and Congress alone can fix it", she said.

Trump blamed opposition Democratic lawmakers for the impasse over US immigration policies, even though Trump's Republican party controls both chambers in Congress, and the family border policies were set by his administration.

US protocol does not allow children to be detained with their parents because they, unlike their moms and dads, aren't charged with a crime. Trump said the U.S. "They're not going to pass a bill saying '[Trump] shall not split them up'".

Former first lady Laura Bush joined in the outrage and blasted Mr Trump's policy as "cruel" and "immoral" and added "it breaks my heart".

"The government should know how bad this looks and how innocent children are actually suffering", O'Reilly tweeted. Bush, the wife of former President George W. Bush, penned a tweet over the weekend in which she echoed the widespread condemnation of the new directive from Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Trump administration has selected and is now defending a course of action - in other words, a policy.