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Immigration and border politics in the United States has this week captured the public's attention in a manner not seen since some of the most heated debates of the 2016 presidential election.

Children of migrants and refugees who cross the southern US border illegally are being separated from their families while their parents face legal proceedings. The images and audio of children taken from their parents and put into detention centres furnished with metal cages and concrete floors have outraged politicians, former first ladies and large sections of the American public. 

At least five governors, including two Republicans, announced Tuesday that they would pull state troops from the southern border or cancel planned deployments in response to the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy. Republicans vowed to press ahead with votes this week on a pair of more sweeping immigration bills drafted by conservatives and moderates, claiming they would address the family separation issue while overhauling the nation’s immigration system.

Senior lecturer David Smith spoke to Triple J's Hack program yesterday about the controversial policy and the public backlash.