US President Donald Trump orders halt to migrant family separations at border

23 June, 2018, 08:16 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Donald Trump signs order to end family separations

"How do you think the leverage is playing for us right now?" asked one official sarcastically.

"It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources".

Kay Bellor, vice president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, among the largest refugee resettlement agencies in the USA, said: "While children will no longer be ripped from the arms of their parents for the sole objective of deterring immigration, they will go to jail with their parents".

Vice-President Mike Pence and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has emerged as the face of the White House policy, were both present.

From there, Obama commented directly on his successor's latest policy at the southern border:That's the reality for so numerous families whose plights we see and heart-rending cries we hear.

Hours before the executive order was signed, Pope Francis said he stood with the USA bishops, who had condemned the family separation policy, which has led to children being held in government shelters while their parents are sent to federal prisons.

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

Heart-rending images and sounds of wailing children separated from their guardians have led to a firestorm of opposition to the Trump administration's crackdown on illegal immigration. Do we look away, or do we choose to see something of ourselves and our children?

Mr Trump said on Wednesday that the zero tolerance policy would continue, but that he "didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated".

"You will have a lot of happy people", Trump said as he signed the executive order.

Despite the executive order, the Trump administration continued to push Congress for a long-term fix to the border issues.


The most glaring deficiency of the President's executive order was that it stunningly did nothing for more than 2,300 children already separated from their parents, some of whom have been held in cage-like conditions or have been sent to facilities around the country.

Speaker of the House of Representative Paul Ryan said it would vote today (June 21) on legislation to "keep families together". We'll make it another time when things are going extremely well.

Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest and United airlines all said the policy contravened their values.

Nielsen pushed the president to find a way to de-escalate the situation, said two officials, who were not authorized to describe the discussions and requested anonymity.

The children could not take the "expedited removal" route and their cases often took longer to resolve.

Holding cells: They are first detained at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, where chain-link fenced enclosures are used, though the children can only be legally held there for three days.

Tent camps: USA officials have set up a tent camp for migrant children in Tornillo, Texas.

The Trump administration is likely to become tangled in legal battles with immigration activists on behalf of detained migrants if it is unable to overturn the Flores agreement before the 20-day deadline. The more than 2,000 children who already have been moved to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services won't be immediately reunited with family members.

As quickly as Trump reversed course on the separation matter, speculation mounted over the fate of the advisers who crafted the policy: Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Miller, the 32-year-old policy aide who has drawn liberal ire for his uncompromising immigration stance.

A top HHS official told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday they have no system in place to do so.

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