♪ this is "nightline." >> tonight -- >> stop taking children! >> united in outrage. >> do you agree we need to take care of those children? >> protesters across the country calling for an end to the trump administration's zero tolerance policy that separates children from their parents after illegal border crossings. >> mommy! >> lawmakers on both sides of the aisle demanding change. >> we'd like to see this fixed. >> what country is that? this is the united states of america! >> the president showing no signs of retreat. with thousands of children's lives hanging in the balance. plus the notorious rbg. >> i am 84 years old and everyone wants to take a picture
with me. >> from a tenacious litigator fighting sexism to a supreme court superhero, the cases and the verdicts that define a liberal icon and a husband who has her back every step of the way. the life, love, and legacy of ruth bader ginsburg. but first the "nightline 5." >> my digestive system used to make me feel sluggish. but those days are over. now i take metamucil every day. it naturally traps and removes the waste that weighs me down so i feel lighter. try metamucil and begin to feel like lighter feels like. introducing metamucil fiber thin. made of 100% natural psyllium fiber, a great and easy way to start your day. new at walmart and walmart.com. >> number one
good evening and thank you for joining us. i'm rebecca jarvis. their tears have sparked a national outcry. undocumented children separated from their parents at the american border. tonight the pressure mounting with advocates and lawmakers, some even from the president's own party, demanding an end to the policy. here's abc's marcus moore. >> reporter: tonight -- >> what are you doing? >> reporter: outrage across the country. >> do you agree we need to take care of those children? >> we are taking care of those children. your tax dollars -- >> reporter: from town halls to capitol hill. >> child internment camps, that's what i said. >> reporter: as the trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy comes under fire. many up in arms as children are forcibly separated from their parents. >> i support a plan that keeps families together while their immigration status is determined.
>> reporter: seemingly all sides of the political spectrum united in what many say is a moral crisis unfolding on the southwest border. [ crying ] >> reporter: voices like this little girl's heard in a recording. >> mommy! >> reporter: providing a glimpse into the consequences of the directive issued in april. the 6-year-old girl pleading repeatedly for someone to call her aunt. she is reportedly one of more than 2,300 children now separated from their parents. some of these families fleeing violence, economic hardship in their native countries. >> when i talk to these mothers and i say to them, would you have come here if you would have known your child was going to be taken away? they throw up their arms and say, what choice did i have? if i stayed in my country, i might have been killed, my son might have been killed. so it's essentially gratuitous cruelty. >> reporter: the first stop for many detainees might an facility like this one.
i was allowed in just days ago. just finished a tour inside the facility, it was almost overwhelming. our cameras were not permitted. cages, chain link fences shown in these images released by u.s. customs and border protection of one of the largest processing centers. this one housing more than 1,000 immigrants, many of those children, wrapped in mylar blankets to stay warm. some families could be separated here or at another facility. >> it doesn't matter how good the facility is, the harm is done by the separation. a 3-year-old ripped from their parents isn't going to say, okay, i'm fine because i have a coloring book. they're going to be asking, where is my mommy? every single night. >> say it loud and clear, immigrants are welcome here! >> reporter: in the border town of el paso where the effects of immigration policy are keenly felt, families in solidarity with the ones being torn apart. >> the building of the wall is not something that we want. the denying of due process to the people who are coming in, the denying of due process to the children that are being detained in cages.
this is heartbreaking to us. >> reporter: my colleague geo benitez was there. >> as a mother what do you tell your kids when they see these pictures on television? >> that we're very lucky and we have to stand up for people that don't have voices. >> free our children now! >> reporter: faith leaders responded in washington. >> this practice ends today, right now, without hesitation, without another statement, it ends right now! >> reporter: that moral responsibility shared by some in washington. >> what country is that? this is the united states of america! >> reporter: representative elijah cummings visibly emotional. >> we need you to remind him that this is the united states of america. it is a great country. we need you to stand up and for those children. >> reporter: senator bob menendez playing sounds of those crying children on the senate floor. [ crying ] >> how do you submit the cries of innocent children to the congressional record?
>> reporter: members from the president's own party saying a more prominent fix is needed. >> a lot of us have said publicly we'd like to see this fixed. that i don't think this is going to age well over time. we'll see where the administration comes out. >> i don't think anybody likes to see these images or the reality of children being separated from their parents. >> reporter: the white house says the president doesn't want a quick fix, he wants immigration reform, and his wall. today, doubling down on his policy. >> i don't want children taken away from parents. and when you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away. >> reporter: once again pushing the false claim that separating children at the border is required by law. >> there is no law that mandates that when a family is captured by border patrol as they cross the border, that children should be separated from their parents. there is a law, a criminal law, against illegal border crossing. but it's a question of priority.
we don't arrest everybody for every minor offense. >> try and think of another place in the united states, any state or federal misdemeanor law, where there's zero discretion and they say, we're going to put someone in jail for this misdemeanor even if it means we send a child to foster care. that never happens. >> reporter: tonight the president had a closed-door meeting with house republicans who are preparing to vote on two bills to address the crisis. president trump reportedly telling them his daughter ivanka showed him images of children in detention facilities and encouraged him to end the policy. >> the president did put his blessing hapd moderate bill that would increase border wall finding, provide political status to dreamers, and put a stop to family separations. even if the president was scattered in this meeting tonight, house republicans say they are taking his words and running with them. now it's their job to pass this bill. >> reporter: but insiders saying to some republicans there's zero sense of whether the bills will pass and what exactly the president wants. earlier today i joined border
patrol agent ken cruppa for a ride-along. >> we're going to work toward the south side of laredo. >> reporter: political climate aside, they have a job to do. >> we're here to protect the people of our country. when you talk about down here on the border, you never know what the threat is. >> reporter: he brought us toward the rio grande, an area emblematic of the complexities of the border. some make the desperate journey seeking safe haven. others try crossing it to traffic drugs. >> sometimes it's sad to see these people that are put in danger, they pay all this money to smugglers and thinking they're coming here to get a better life, but they get put in positions where it's dangerous to cross the river, people drown all the time. >> the family separations that's been happening, you all are kind of on the front line of that. >> when we encounter a family in the field, first thing we make sure everybody's okay, they get any kind of attention they need. food, water, anything like that, medical attention if they need it. then once they're secure, we'll transport them to our processing center where they'll be interviewed, they'll be talked
to, debriefed, then establish the correct path forward with processing those individuals and those families. >> is it easy for you to do that kind of thing? >> um -- i mean, it's a required process. it's our job. um -- when it comes down to it, that's the most important thing. >> reporter: we get a tip about a potential stash house. >> we're heading to a residence based on the information provided. agents went and did surveillance. agents have reason to believe there's additional illegal aliens inside that residence. >> is there anybody in the back? >> reporter: the seven men are under investigation and we don't know what brought them over the border. >> line them up on the wall or something. >> reporter: but immigration advocates say that most who cross border illegally are doing so to seek safety. >> what's happened under this administration is the attempt to dehumanize immigrants and make it seem like they're all hardcore criminals, all members of gangs. i mean, what we always ask people, think about the immigrant you know. think about the immigrant who
you work with, live next to. >> reporter: tonight as more undocumented families face detention and the possibility their children will be taken from them, advocates are taking their battle to court. the aclu among others have filed a lawsuit asking for a nationwide injunction. ending this policy and reuniting families. >> there were lines that people would say, enough is enough, and it won't matter whether you're liberal or conservative. i think people are pushing, especially parents, thinking about if their 3-year-old or 4-year-old were in this situation and they're saying, look, enough. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm marcus moore in laredo, texas. next, how ruth bader ginsburg went from fighting the system to leading it. i thought i was managing my moderate to severe crohn's disease. then i realized something was missing... me. my symptoms were keeping me from being there.
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ruth bader ginsburg is not only a supreme court justice, but to many she's also a cultural icon fighting against sexism and for equality. "nightline" coanchor juju chang gives us an inside and intimate look at the woman beyond the bench. >> reporter: she's a force to be reckoned with. >> all i ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks. >> reporter: ruth bader ginsburg, barely 5 feet tall, a liberal giant on the supreme court. achieving rock star status at 85 with her tough workouts. >> 25, 24, 23 -- >> reporter: and even tougher dissents. earning her the hip-hop-inspired nickname the notorious rbg.
>> i am 84 years old and everyone wants to take a picture with me. >> reporter: now the star of a new documentary "rbg." >> in a lot of ways her life story and career story is the arc of feminist history in the u.s. >> reporter: the film produced by julie cohen and my friend and producer betsy west is a bona fide hit. grossing over $10 million so far, nearly unheard of for a documentary. this is such the unexpected hit. why do you think it is such a smash? >> during one of our interviews we talked to gloria steinem. she said she's the closest thing to a superhero that i know. and, you know, it's turned out to be true at the box office. >> many varieties. >> reporter: her collars becoming her calling card. >> this is what i use for announcing majority opinion. >> reporter: framing the face of a political movement, inspiring legions of young feminists. >> you just got gins-burned! >> reporter: immortalized on "snl."
ginsburg was a trail blazing lawyer in the '70s, arguing for gender equality in front of the bench long before she sat on it. >> men and women are persons of equal dignity and they should count equally before the law. >> you won't settle for putting susan b. anthony on the new dollar? >> when they would say things like this, how did you respond? >> well, never in anger, as my mother told me. that would have been self-defeating. always as an opportunity to teach. i did see myself as kind of a kindergarten teacher in those days. because the judges didn't think sex discrimination existed. one of the things i tried to plant in their minds was, think about how you would like the world to be for your daughters and granddaughters. >> the gender line helps to keep
women not on a pedestal, but in a cage. >> i was working in the 1970s. i didn't really understand the impact that ruth bader ginsburg's work was having on women. the kind of equality that we take for granted now is as a result of the work that she did. >> she had this incredible history as a civil rights litigator. she was viewed in many ways as the thurgood marshall of sex equality. >> reporter: she began law school at harvard where she juggled classes along with motherhood. >> the late 1950s, she was one of nine women in a class of 500. >> reporter: finishing her law degree at columbia in new york city. >> she'd been on "the law review" at harvard, at columbia. tied for first in her class. the big new york city law firms weren't hiring women as lawyers. they were hiring them as secretaries, receptionists. >> she didn't get a single job offer at a major law firm. >> i think a lot of younger women don't really understand
what women of ruth bader ginsburg's generation were up against. >> reporter: after a personal appeal by one of her columbia professors, ginsburg was hired by a new york law firm with her husband's steadfast support. >> she was smart enough to marry a feminist. >> absolutely. it wasn't easy to find feminists in the 1950s. >> reporter: after a stint as an appeals court judge in 1993 -- >> i am proud to nominate for associate justice of the supreme court judge ruth bader ginsburg -- >> reporter: that nomination by president bill clinton may never have happened had it not been for the intense lobbying effort by her husband marty. >> he felt she was brilliant and she deserved it and it would be good for the country. >> i am grateful beyond measure -- >> reporter: at her confirmation hearing she didn't shy away from her feminism. >> in my lifetime, i expect to see three, four, perhaps even more women on the high court bench. >> reporter: discussing controversial subjects like abortion rights.
>> this is something central to a woman's life, to her dignity. it's a decision that she must make. >> reporter: she was confirmed by the senate 96-3. the second woman ever on the supreme court. quickly making her mark on landmark cases. >> history made at the virginia military institute. for the first time in the school's 158-year history, women are in the freshman class. 30 of them, to be exact. the supreme court forced vmi to admit the women or lose its state funding. >> she wrote the majority opinion for it in 1996 in the virginia military institute case, that basically sat as a matter of law, discriminating against women should be presumed unconstitutional. >> it's justice ginsburg writing an opinion that builds on the foundations that lawyer ruth bader ginsburg essentially helped to lay. >> it is most appropriate we welcome today a member of our nation's highest court, justice ruth bader ginsburg.
welcome to the virginia military institute. >> vmi fought very hard to keep women out. >> i know that there were some people who did not react well to the change. and my response to this was, wait and see. you will be proud of the women who become graduates. >> reporter: her impact on the bench has been significant. but it's not just her opinions that are notable. justice ginsburg is known for reaching across the aisle. one of her best friends? the late arch-conservative justin antonin scalia. >> they both loved opera. justice scalia was a very funny man. he really cracked her up. >> reporter: her tenure on the bench not without controversy. breaking tradition for a justice, bader ginsburg spoke out against then-candidate donald trump, including to the "new york times." >> i think there's pretty broad agreement that justice ginsburg made comments that were ill advised about then-candidate
trump. >> reporter: on a closely divided court in the midst of this controversial presidency, even though she's 85, she's not showing any signs of showing down. >> she announced her clerks for next year. and her clerks for the year after. maybe she's getting tired of people asking her, when are you going to resign, when are you going to resign? >> her answer is, she'll keep doing the job until she feels she can't do it full steam. next, this couple taking their walk down a different kind of aisle. man: it takes a lot of work to run this business, but i really love it. i'm on the move all day long, and sometimes i don't eat the way i should. so i drink boost to get the nutrition i'm missing.
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