Homeland Security prepares order to end family separations at border

Frederick Owens
June 21, 2018

Bowing to pressure from the tech industry and politicians, President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he plans to stop the separation of immigrant families at the US-Mexico border.

"We're going to have strong, very strong borders, but we're going to keep the families together", said Trump who said he didn't like the "sight" or "feeling" of children separated from their parents.

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

The order does not end the "zero-tolerance" policy that criminally prosecutes all adults caught crossing the border illegally.

In a televised roundtable with members of Congress, Senators and members of his adminstration, Trump announced: "we're going to be signing an executive order. we're going to keep families together, but we still have to maintain toughness or our country is going to be overrun".

Under the order, entire immigrant families would be detained together by the Department of Homeland Security pending legal and court proceedings for the parents. The order directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "promptly" request that Judge Dolly Gee, the federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California who oversees the Flores settlement, modify the agreement to allow for extended detention of children with their parents "throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings".

Nielsen said her department would continue enforcing the law, unlike past administrations. The children then were turned over to HHS within 72 hours and categorized as unaccompanied minors who eventually would be placed with sponsors. It also calls for prioritising immigration cases involving detained families.

"His goal was not to rip families apart, I think his goal was to make Congress act on immigration reform", Pappas added. But concurrently, organizers are already planning to take their message of support for separated families to Washington, D.C. on June 30, as well as via coordinated rallies across the country.

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Both first lady Melania Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly had roles in the changing course.

She also said the groups want Walmart to denounce the Trump administration's policy and for its CEO to encourage President Donald Trump to rescind it immediately, something Trump said Wednesday he will do.

"We worked very hard to keep our commitments and to be flexible throughout this process, and I truly hope that colleagues who up to a couple days ago were working with us constructively would now turn around and blow up our agreement", he said.

Meadows' spokesman tweeted later Wednesday evening that Meadows "had a good follow-up conversation with Speaker Ryan just now, after today's floor events".

Republicans had been working on two separate bills in the House of Representatives to address the issue, but as of early Wednesday they appeared to lack the votes necessary to pass the bills. This will leave the Trump administration in the same position as that of Barack Obama during a similar spike of families at the border in 2014.

Yes. Trump and many of his top officials insisted for days that the president lacked the ability to unilaterally end family separations at the border, instead arguing that congressional action was necessary.

The policy had led to a spike in family separations in recent weeks, with more than 2,300 minors separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to Homeland Security.

"As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching". Most of the more than 10,000 children in shelters under HHS care came to the USA alone and are waiting to be placed with family members living in the U.S.

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