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Central American asylum seekers wait as U.S. Border Patrol agents take them into custody near McAllen, Texas. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Confronted by daily images of families being traumatized at the border, Republican lawmakers plan to increase pressure on President Trump to roll back a "zero tolerance" immigration policy resulting in parents being separated from children, GOP sources tell Axios.

Be smart: We know that Trump is responsive to traumatic images (including kids being gassed in Syria), and he's acutely attuned to how issues play in the media. So some well-wired Republicans think he may eventually find a way to change the policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

  • Trump is expected to be personally confronted on the issue when he is the guest for a special meeting of House Republicans tomorrow evening.
  • Multiple sources in close touch with the White House believe this issue is providing images that fuel the left's worst views of the administration.
  • But sources say Trump views the issue as leverage, and will try to get funding for a border wall or other concessions for a rollback of the policy.

Two potentially game-changing voices joined the debate yesterday:

  • Former First Lady Laura Bush said in a Washington Post op-ed: "[T]his zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart."
  • First Lady Melania Trump, who rarely weighs in on policy, told CNN through her spokeswoman: "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 ... She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

The backdrop: In April, the Justice Department notified "all U.S. Attorney’s Offices along the Southwest Border of a new 'zero-tolerance policy' for ... both attempted illegal entry and illegal entry into the United States by an alien."

  • 1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults from April 19 through May 31, according to Department of Homeland Security figures.
  • "Stories have spread of children being torn from their parents' arms, and parents not being able to find where their kids have gone," AP reports.

The outlook: Republicans tell us that with midterms approaching and the border kids becoming a transcendent story, administration efforts to blame Democrats and parse the policy could become unsustainable.

P.S. N.Y. Times Quotation of the Day ... Natalie Garcia, who watched immigration agents arrest her father, Jose Luis Garcia, as he mowed his lawn (Garcia, a legal resident since 1988, was convicted of a misdemeanor in 2001):

  • “They are kidnapping people from their home, starting with my father, who has the legal status.”

Go deeper:

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Go deeper

Cuomo asks New York AG and chief judge to choose "independent" investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A special counselor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Sunday asking the state's attorney general and chief judge to jointly pick an "independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation" to investigate claims of sexual harassment against the governor. The AG's office subsequently turned down the offer, saying it wants to conduct its own probe.

The state of play: The statement is an about-face from Cuomo, who had previously selected a former judge close to a top aide to lead the investigation, the New York Times reported, a move that was widely criticized.

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.