Trump reverses family separation policy after tech, political backlash
Jun 21 2018
The inaction sparked worldwide outrage, including criticism from Pope Francis and opposition from world leaders.
Under the new executive order, the United States will allow children to stay with their parents for the duration of the court proceedings, and additional facilities - including military bases - could be used to accommodate them because a court ruling prevents children from being housed in usual detention centers. The order aims to keep families together while they are in custody, expedite their cases, and ask the Department of Defense to help house families.
However, the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy of prosecuting all illegal border crossings has caused an increased number of these separations.
United States immigration officials say 2342 children were separated from 2206 parents between 5 May and 9 June.
When the crisis of family separations erupted at the border, GOP leaders revised the bill to bolster a provision requiring parents and children to be held together in custody.
President Donald Trump's sudden executive action over the border crisis stemmed some of the urgency for Congress to act.
"The government clearly had no plan in place" for reuniting separated families, said Katharina Obser, a senior policy adviser with the Women's Refugee Commission.
The children are classified as unaccompanied minors, a legal term generally used for children who cross the border alone and have a possible sponsor in the US willing to care for them.
In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessionsannounced a new "zero-tolerance" immigration policy in response to a spike in illegal border crossings in the spring.
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Republican members of Congress on immigration in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Wednesday, June 20, 2018.
"The Department of Homeland Security's going to have to work with the court and ensure that they are able to keep these families as an integrated unit in detention facilities pending their criminal prosecution of the parents and/or the deportation of the whole family for violation of our immigration laws", Azar said.
All this comes as House Republicans prepare to vote on immigration-reform bills that need Democratic support - with no sign they'll get it. More than 2,300 minors were taken from their parents between early May and early June, according to statistics from the Department of Homeland Security. "The government has been faced with the choice of either splitting the family by detaining the parent and releasing the kid, or just letting the parent go too".
Sessions said the administration supports both the conservative and the compromise bill.
Trump appeared to have reached at deal a year ago with Schumer and Pelosi that would have addressed the dreamers situation, but the White House later backed off, insisting on harder-line positions than during a meeting with the Democratic leaders.
"We want Walmart to immediately stop accepting payments for the purchase of this building and to invest $4.5 million (purchase cost) towards reuniting detained children with their parents", said Amy Ritter, communications director for Making Change at Walmart. "If other things happen, we'll cross those bridges when we get to it".
House leaders have been considering two competing bills.