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Photo: Chris Kleponis - Pool/Getty Images

In the last several days, pressure has mounted at increasing rates on the Trump administration to change its hotly-contested policy of separating children from their parents apprehended at the border.

The big picture: Trump and administration officials have repeatedly refused to accept responsibility for what has quickly become a symbol of his crackdown on illegal immigration, blaming Democrats and Congress instead. But change is being demanded across party lines, from state and federal legislators who are using their power to reverse the widely condemned policy.

The letters
  • 12 Republican senators, led by Orrin Hatch (Utah), sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday, stating that they "cannot support implementations of a policy that results in the categorical forced separation of minor children from their parents." They also asked Sessions to work with the administration to stop the separation of families while Congress works out a solution that “enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally.”
  • Democratic Sen. Ed Markey (Mass.) wrote a letter to Gene Dodaro, head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office and Comptroller General of the U.S., asking for a ruling on whether the separation policy is subject to the Congressional Review Act. If it is, Markey says Senate Democrats can "force a vote to end this policy ... and pass it with a simple majority."
The legislation
  • Republican Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) is introducing legislation this week, called the "Protect Kids and Parents Act," which would forbid the separation of families unless there's aggravated criminal activity or potential harm for the child.
  • Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) has introduced bill, titled the "Keep Families Together Act" that has the support of every single Senate Democrat. The bill would outlaw the separation of children from their families except for in very specific cases, including instances of suspected trafficking or family abuse.
  • Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (N.C.) introduced a bill on Tuesday that aims to keep families together, per The Hill, but would also make it harder to seek asylum in the U.S.
State-level retaliation
  • Multiple governors — at least three Republicans and five Democrats — have said that they won't send, or will recall, state resources and their National Guards to the border.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that the state intends to sue the Trump administration "for violating the Constitutional rights of immigrant children and their families."

Be smart: West Wing sources told Axios' Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan that Trump has shown little indication that he'll climb down from the zero-tolerance border policy.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.