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U.S. border agency says it is holding 200 children, down from 2,500 in May

(Reuters) - U.S. border officers were detaining about 200 unaccompanied children along the southern border on Wednesday, down from more than 2,500 in May, thanks to congressional funding increases, a senior border agency official said.

The reduction follows a pair of government inspections that revealed overcrowding and filthy conditions at border detention facilities, inflaming the debate about President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies.

The emotions of that debate were on display Wednesday during a congressional hearing in Washington, where a Guatemalan asylum seeker brought U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tears and left others visibly shaken with the story of her 19-month-old daughter’s death, saying she had contracted a deadly lung infection during a 20-day detention.

“The world should know,” Yazmin Juarez told a House of Representatives subcommittee, adding that it was “like they tore out a piece of my heart” when, just weeks after they were released, her daughter Mariee died.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration renewed threats to carry out widespread roundups of immigrants who are eligible for deportation.

“They are absolutely going to happen,” Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told reporters.

Trump has raised the prospect of detaining “millions” of people, while Cuccinelli said about a million people had exhausted their legal appeals and were eligible for deportation.

Amid the provocative rhetoric, a senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection official offered the more consolatory news that the controversial detentions of children by the agency were down to about 200. ....continues.

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