WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSNewYork) – Capping off a contentious week over the more than 2,000 migrant children separated from their families at the southern border, President Donald Trump fired back at critics Friday.
The president stood alongside so-called “Angel Families” and introduced them as “the other side” of the immigration story. He said the families are the victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants.
Laura Wilkerson’s 18-year-old son was murdered in 2010.
“We weren’t lucky enough to be separated for five days or 10 days, we’re separated permanently,” she said. “Any time we want to see or be close to our kids we go to the cemetery.”
Earlier this week, Trump signed an executive order to keep children with their parents who cross the border illegally. Details of the order are still being sorted out.
U.S. officials told CBS News most children separated from their families by U.S. Customs and Border Protection would be reunited by the end of the day Friday. The directive, though, did not apply to the more than 2,000 children being held by the Department of Health and Human Services.
One reunion took place Friday morning at Baltimore–Washington International Airport in Maryland. Beata Mejia-Mejia’s 7-year-old son had been taken from her in May after they arrived from Guatemala. She sued to regain custody and the Department of Justice agreed to release the boy.
At a rally outside a federal immigration detention center in New Jersey, Sen. Bob Menendez spoke by phone to an immigrant separated from his family.
“He was going to be here, but he was threatened to lose his job,” said Menednez.
In New York City, the Cayuga Center on Park Avenue near 131st Street is providing services for 239 of the separated children who are now staying with foster families. A group of New York delegates checked in on the center Friday.
“I talked to some of the social workers. They say they have been successful in reuniting, but it’s very hard because they have no paperwork,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney said.
A surge of more children is expected in the coming weeks.
“Let’s not sugarcoat this. To be ripped away from your parents as a child is about the most traumatic experience,” said Councilman Mark Levine.
On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo visited a facility in the New York City area that may be housing some of the separated children.
Earlier Friday morning, the president tweeted, “Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November. Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!”
The tweet came after two GOP immigration bills faced trouble in the House of Representatives. A hard-line conservative bill failed Thursday, while a vote on a compromise measure was postponed until next week.