messages: Activists have placed signs on the doors of the Department of Justice to protest immigration policy. (Associated Press)

Far from settling the family separation issue, President Trump’s executive order last month has only solidified the battle lines, with his administration saying it is left with no choice but to keep entire families detained and Democrats and liberal activists saying no illegal immigrants should be detained at all.

Believing they have seized momentum after Mr. Trump backed down on separations, those activists now say the agency responsible for detaining and deporting illegal immigrations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, should be scrapped altogether.

The call is becoming a litmus test for Democratic candidates. It has been picked up as a rallying cry by Hollywood elites eager for another issue over which to attack the president, and on Saturday it sent tens of thousands of people into the streets in cities across the country.

Mr. Trump says it’s a losing issue for them and vowed in a series of tweets and an interview this weekend to back ICE agents and officers.

“That’s going to be their platform, open borders, which equals crime. I think they’ll never win another election, so I’m actually quite happy about it,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Channel’s Maria Bartiromo.

Mr. Trump ignited the debate with his zero-tolerance policy at the border, announced by the Justice Department in May, which involved jailing most border jumpers. It was meant to send a message to migrants that crossing the border illegally would have immediate consequences.

In cases where parents came to the border with children, that meant separating them because there aren’t family detention spaces in the criminal justice system.

But after massive resistance from Democrats and Republicans, religious leaders and the business community, the president relented. Two weeks ago, he signed an executive order ending most family separations.

Democrats said that was a good start but argued that he needed to go further and release illegal immigrant families into the community. Even being detained with their parents is traumatic for children, they said....

It has grown into a major movement.On Thursday, some 630 women were arrested at one of the Senate office buildings in Washington during a protest calling for ICE to be abolished. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people marched in cities across the country with the same rallying cry.“As a woman and as a mother, I refuse to stay silent as parents on the border are separated from their kids,” said Tamika Mallory, co-chair of the Women’s March, who was one of those arrested. “Our fight won’t end until all mothers are reunited with their children, which is why we are demanding an end to immigrant detention once and for all.”The Trump administration has flatly rejected that option, saying it would amount to “catch and release” — when illegal immigrants are processed and released into the community on the usually false hope that they will return for their deportation hearings.“The government will not separate families but detain families together during the pendency of immigration

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