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President Donald Trump's administration on Friday worked on a plan to reunite separated families, and detained parents struggled to get in touch with their children, some of whom were being held hundreds of miles away.

In another tweet Friday, Trump backed off calling on Congress to act on immigration, telling Republicans not to be "wasting their time" trying to pass legislation before the November midterms. In a series of tweets, Trump said, "Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solve this decades-old problem".

He said then he wanted Congress to pass a more comprehensive immigration bill.

Trump's tweet on immigration legislation was the latest example of his abrupt reversals on issues, to the dismay of Republicans who crave his backing as a seal of approval for conservative voters.

President Trump stood alongside "angel families" who have been affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants Friday, as he continues his push for strong borders.

The US House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill favoured by conservatives that would have halted the practice of splitting up families and addressed a range of other immigration issues. Trump told Republicans the party could pass "great legislation" on its own following a "Red Wave!" in November.

The House was expected to vote today on two immigration bills: Rep. Goodlatte's proposal and the House leadership's alleged compromise bill supported by President Trump.

The charade began last month, when a group of vulnerable House Republicans chose to try to force a vote on a clean DREAM Act (i.e., legislation that gave a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers without funding Trump's wall or slashing legal immigration).

He focused on the fact that young migrants separated from parents are likely to be reunited, unlike the victims of murders.

On Wednesday, Trump repeatedly changed his mind about precisely what he wanted to do, and how, according to people familiar with the discussions. Those defections - almost 1 in 5 GOP lawmakers - underscored the party's chasm over immigration and the election-year pressures Republicans face to stay true to districts that range from staunchly conservative to pro-immigrant. What it suggests is that kids have been separated from their families for months as Donald Trump and the Republican Party works on an advantageous immigration bill for them. It provides $25 billion for Trump's wall, restrictions on legal immigration and language requiring the Homeland Security Department to keep migrant families together while they're being processed for illegal entry to the U.S.

Some parents said they did not even know where their children were.

There were also signs that the administration is easing, for now at least, its policy of prosecuting all adults caught crossing the border illegally.

Rather than be separated from his children, "I said, 'better that we head back to my country, '" said Castillo.

"These are the stories that Democrats and people that are weak on immigration, they don't want to discuss", he said.

A vote on the second, so-called compromise, bill could come Friday but some members leaving the caucus meeting Thursday told reporters that they think it will take longer to reach any sort of agreement.

Officials in the United States are making arrangements to house about 20,000 migrant children on four military bases in Texas and Arkansas, The New York Times has reported.

There were signs the Trump administration was dialling back its "zero-tolerance" policy, for now, but the president showed no sign of softening in public remarks, even as Congress failed again to pass immigration reform.