Children held under Trump administration’s “zero tolerance" illegal immigration policy

President Donald Trump’s order to stop separating migrant children from their parents spread confusion along the border, with officials still working on a plan to reunite families while sending conflicting signals about the state of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

Parents who remained locked up struggled to get in touch with children being held in many cases hundreds of miles away. Some said they didn’t even know where their children were. Others said they had been deported without them.

Trump himself took a hard line on the crisis, accusing the Democrats of telling “phony stories of sadness and grief.”

“We cannot allow our country to be overrun by illegal immigrants,” he tweeted.

A senior Trump administration official said that about 500 of the more than 2,300 children taken from their families at the border in recent weeks have been reunited since May.

Federal agencies are working to set up a centralized reunification process for all remaining children at a detention center on the Texas side of the border, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. (AP)

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<p>Immigrant children separated from parents who were detained at the U.S./Mexico border arrive Cayuga Center, a foster care facility, in East Harlem wearing masks, hats and sunglasses in New York City on June 22, 2018. (Photo: Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch/IPX/AP) </p>
New York City

Immigrant children separated from parents who were detained at the U.S./Mexico border arrive Cayuga Center, a foster care facility, in East Harlem wearing masks, hats and sunglasses in New York City on June 22, 2018. (Photo: Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch/IPX/AP)

<p>NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21: New York City police officers (NYPD) stand guard outside of Cayuga Center, a immigrant foster care facility, in East Harlem where immigrant children who have been separated from their parents are taken during the day as a result of President Donald Trump’s Zero Tolerance illegal immigration policy in New York City on June 21, 2018. (Photo: Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch/IPX/AP) </p>
New York City

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21: New York City police officers (NYPD) stand guard outside of Cayuga Center, a immigrant foster care facility, in East Harlem where immigrant children who have been separated from their parents are taken during the day as a result of President Donald Trump’s Zero Tolerance illegal immigration policy in New York City on June 21, 2018. (Photo: Rainmaker Photo/MediaPunch/IPX/AP)

<p>Two woman accompany children to the Cayuga Centers in New York, Thursday, June 21, 2018. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he learned on Wednesday that hundreds of migrant children separated from their parents by federal immigration officials are being cared for in the facility. (Photo: Richard Drew/AP) </p>
New York City

Two woman accompany children to the Cayuga Centers in New York, Thursday, June 21, 2018. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he learned on Wednesday that hundreds of migrant children separated from their parents by federal immigration officials are being cared for in the facility. (Photo: Richard Drew/AP)

<p>Children, with their faces covered with masks, leave the Cayuga Center, which provides foster care and other services to immigrant children separated from their families, in New York City, June 21, 2018. (Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters) </p>
New York City

Children, with their faces covered with masks, leave the Cayuga Center, which provides foster care and other services to immigrant children separated from their families, in New York City, June 21, 2018. (Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters)

<p>Migrant children walk outside at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children a former Job Corps site that now houses them, on Friday, June 22, 2018, in Homestead, Fla. U.S. officials provided a glimpse into the South Florida facility housing more than 1,000 teen-age migrants, seeking to dispel any suggestions that children are being mistreated. The tour included dorm-style buildings where children sleep up to 12 per room in steel-framed bunk beds, and warehouse-sized, air-conditioned white tents where minors attend classes and watch movies. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP) </p>
Homestead, Fla.

Migrant children walk outside at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children a former Job Corps site that now houses them, on Friday, June 22, 2018, in Homestead, Fla. U.S. officials provided a glimpse into the South Florida facility housing more than 1,000 teen-age migrants, seeking to dispel any suggestions that children are being mistreated. The tour included dorm-style buildings where children sleep up to 12 per room in steel-framed bunk beds, and warehouse-sized, air-conditioned white tents where minors attend classes and watch movies. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP)

<p>Unaccompanied minors are seen at the Bristow facility, in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Bristow, Va., June 21, 2018. The shelter is one of numerous facilities housing children and youths which are funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. (Photo: HHS/Handout via Reuters) </p>
Bristow, Va.

Unaccompanied minors are seen at the Bristow facility, in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Bristow, Va., June 21, 2018. The shelter is one of numerous facilities housing children and youths which are funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement. (Photo: HHS/Handout via Reuters)

<p>Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new “zero tolerance” policy by the Trump administration, walk in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, June 18, 2018. (Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters) </p>
Tent compound in Tornillo, Texas

Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new “zero tolerance” policy by the Trump administration, walk in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, June 18, 2018. (Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters)

<p>A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants’ country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images) </p>
Near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas

A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants’ country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

<p>Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new “zero tolerance” policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, June 18, 2018. (Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters) </p>
Tent compound in Tornillo, Texas

Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new “zero tolerance” policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, June 18, 2018. (Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters)

<p>People participate in a protest against a recent U.S. immigration policy of separating children from their families when they enter the United States as undocumented immigrants, outside the Tornillo Tranit Center, in Tornillo, Texas, June 17, 2018. (Photo: Monica Lozano/Reuters) </p>
Protest outside Tornillo Tranit Center, Texas

People participate in a protest against a recent U.S. immigration policy of separating children from their families when they enter the United States as undocumented immigrants, outside the Tornillo Tranit Center, in Tornillo, Texas, June 17, 2018. (Photo: Monica Lozano/Reuters)

<p>Signs are seen at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility that is used to house immigrant children in Fabens, Texas, June 18, 2018. (Photo: Jon Herskovitz/Reuters) </p>
Detainee facility in Fabens, Texas

Signs are seen at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility that is used to house immigrant children in Fabens, Texas, June 18, 2018. (Photo: Jon Herskovitz/Reuters)

<p>Undocumented migrants wait for asylum hearings outside of the port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico on Monday, June 18, 2018. The Trump administration will no longer accept victims of domestic abuse or gang violence seeking asylum. (Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images) </p>
Port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico

Undocumented migrants wait for asylum hearings outside of the port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico on Monday, June 18, 2018. The Trump administration will no longer accept victims of domestic abuse or gang violence seeking asylum. (Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

<p>The inside of a dormitory at the Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, June 14, 2018. (Photo: ACF/HHS/Handout via Reuters) </p>
Tent compound in Tornillo, Texas

The inside of a dormitory at the Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, June 14, 2018. (Photo: ACF/HHS/Handout via Reuters)

<p>People who’ve been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP) </p>
Detainee facility in McAllen, Texas

People who’ve been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

<p>Akemi Vargas, 8, cries as she talks about being separated from her father during an immigration family separation protest in front of the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. District Court building, Monday, June 18, 2018, in Phoenix, Ariz. (Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP) </p>
Protest in Phoenix, Ariz.

Akemi Vargas, 8, cries as she talks about being separated from her father during an immigration family separation protest in front of the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. District Court building, Monday, June 18, 2018, in Phoenix, Ariz. (Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP)

<p>An undocumented immigrant is bodysearched by a U.S. Border Patrol agent after being caught hiding in a sugarcane field near the U.S.-Mexico Border on June 12, 2018 near Mission, Texas. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images) </p>
Near the U.S.-Mexico border in Mission, Texas

An undocumented immigrant is bodysearched by a U.S. Border Patrol agent after being caught hiding in a sugarcane field near the U.S.-Mexico Border on June 12, 2018 near Mission, Texas. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

<p>A U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who’ve been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, stand in line at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP) </p>
Detainee facility in McAllen, Texas

A U.S. Border Patrol agent watches as people who’ve been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, stand in line at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17, 2018. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

<p>People participate in a protest against recent U.S. immigration policy that separates children from their families when entering the United States as undocumented immigrants in front of a Homeland Security facility in Elizabeth, N.J., June 17, 2018. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters) </p>
Protest in Elizabeth, N.J.

People participate in a protest against recent U.S. immigration policy that separates children from their families when entering the United States as undocumented immigrants in front of a Homeland Security facility in Elizabeth, N.J., June 17, 2018. (Photo: Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

<p>Central American asylum seekers, including a Honduran girl, 2, and her mother, are taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images) </p>
Near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas

Central American asylum seekers, including a Honduran girl, 2, and her mother, are taken into custody near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

<p>Central American asylum seekers wait as U.S. Border Patrol agents take them into custody on June 12, 2018 near McAllen, Texas. The families were then sent to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processing center for possible separation. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images) </p>
Near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas

Central American asylum seekers wait as U.S. Border Patrol agents take them into custody on June 12, 2018 near McAllen, Texas. The families were then sent to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processing center for possible separation. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

<p>Occupants at Casa Padre, an immigrant shelter for unaccompanied minors, in Brownsville, Texas, are seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, June 14, 2018. (Photo: ACF/HHS/Handout via Reuters) </p>
Casa Padre detainee facility in Brownsville, Texas

Occupants at Casa Padre, an immigrant shelter for unaccompanied minors, in Brownsville, Texas, are seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, June 14, 2018. (Photo: ACF/HHS/Handout via Reuters)

<p>People participate in a protest against a recent U.S. immigration policy of separating children from their families when they enter the United States as undocumented immigrants, outside the Tornillo Tranit Center, in Tornillo, Texas, June 17, 2018. (Photo: Monica Lozano/Reuters) </p>
Protest outside Tornillo Tranit Center, Texas

People participate in a protest against a recent U.S. immigration policy of separating children from their families when they enter the United States as undocumented immigrants, outside the Tornillo Tranit Center, in Tornillo, Texas, June 17, 2018. (Photo: Monica Lozano/Reuters)

<p>U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive to detain a group of Central American asylum seekers near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images) </p>
Near the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, Texas

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive to detain a group of Central American asylum seekers near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

<p>Casa Padre, an immigrant shelter for unaccompanied minors, in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, June 14, 2018. (Photo: ACF/HHS/Handout via Reuters) </p>
Casa Padre detainee facility in Brownsville, Texas

Casa Padre, an immigrant shelter for unaccompanied minors, in Brownsville, Texas, U.S., is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, June 14, 2018. (Photo: ACF/HHS/Handout via Reuters)

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