Trump Signs Executive Order Ending His Own Family-Separation Policy

Trump Signs Executive Order Ending His Own Family-Separation Policy

Trump administration officials say they have no clear plan yet on how to reunite the thousands of children separated from their families at the border since the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy in which anyone caught entering the US illegally is criminally prosecuted.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the president and other officials have repeatedly said the only way to end the practice is for Congress to pass new legislation, though both Democrats and some Republicans have said the president could reverse it by himself.

"We're going to have strong - very strong - borders, but we are going to keep the families together", Trump said moments before signing the order at a White House event.

President Trump has signed an executive order "about keeping families together while ensuring we have a powerful border".

The administration recently put into place a "zero tolerance" policy in which all unlawful border crossings are referred for prosecution — a process that moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Trump's executive order instructs DHS to keep families in custody "to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations", language that points to the government's deficit of detention space for parents with children. It seems to allow significant leeway, though, by including that families will only be kept together "where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources".

The order also directs the United States attorney general to seek a change to a court ruling known as the Flores settlement.

Swalwell added: "Indefinitely keeping them there is no better than separating parents from their children".

May said she she "unequivocally" believed what the U.S. administration was doing on its border was "wrong".

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The detention center is a former Walmart store that was sold in 2016 to a buyer funded by a loan from a company that houses unaccompanied migrant children. She had come to the United States from El Salvador, and immigration authorities detained her with adults and subjected her to daily strip searches.

Still, he said the president's dramatic reversal on separating children won't solve anything: "I see that as placating people".

Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen traveled to Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon to brief lawmakers. But cases where there is a concern that parents "would pose a risk to the child's welfare" have been exempted from the executive order.

And daughter Ivanka Trump tweeted, "Thank you @POTUS for taking critical action ending family separation at our border".

Gene Hamilton, an aide to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, told reporters in a call explaining the order that the Flores settlement put the administration in "an untenable" position.

It does not specifically address what will happen to families and children who have already been separated.

The president's U-turn on the separation of children from their parents comes amid growing fury across the US's political spectrum over the detention of children, some as young as seven months old. That's more and more likely now that Trump's immigration hound dogs have more access to information about those seeking to sponsor a child in US custody.

Though most Americans deplore Trump's zero tolerance policy, it has pulled the curtain back further on another humanitarian crisis that many Americans had either ignored or were unaware of - the large number of minors caught crossing the border without their parents.

But these children are different - they arrived with their families.

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