Trump Backtracked On The Separation Of Families On The Border

Former President Barack Obama used World Refugee Day to criticize President Donald Trump's policy of separating migrant children and families

Pictures and accounts of the separations sparked outrage and a rebellion among Republicans in Trump's own party, as well as global accusation that the U.S. was committing human rights violations.

Amid growing political pressure, the president issued an executive order Wednesday addressing his administration's policy of separating migrant children and parents at the USA border.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday that the president's executive order to stop the separation of families continues to abuse immigrant families by placing them in long-term incarceration.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that stopped the separations.

The separations stem from the administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which aims to prosecute all illegal border crossers.

Earlier on Wednesday, American, United and Frontier airlines announced that they would no longer transport immigrant children who have been separated from their families.

The Trump order, an unusual reversal by him, moves parents with children to the front of the line for immigration proceedings but it does not end a 10-week-old "zero tolerance" policy that calls for prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally under the country's criminal entry statute.

Video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children had sparked anger as the images were broadcast worldwide.

"What we have done today is we are keeping families together", Trump said.

"I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated", Trump said.

The executive order was a rare instance of the president retreating from a decision, and he sought to tamp down any suggestion of having done so. "'Oh, what! So bad, what he said!'" Trump mocked.

"So we're going to have strong - very strong borders, but we're going to keep the families together".

One possible reason for Trump's about-face may very well be his wife. "Perhaps I would rather be strong, but that's a tough dilemma", he told lawmakers in a White House meeting that culminated in his administration backing down.

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As deflated members of his staff either rush for the exits or distance themselves from his whims, Trump is largely alone.

He had tried to blame Democrats for the policy of separating children from parents and force them into concessions, including funding for a wall he wants to build along the border with Mexico. Public outcry is mounting over the family separations, but so far, there's no clear roadmap for Thursday voting on the emotional issue dividing Republicans.

White House officials, advocates and congressional leaders were blindsided Wednesday when word emerged that Trump was considering doing precisely what he'd forcefully claimed he couldn't do - act unilaterally to quell a growing humanitarian and political crisis.

Under a previous class-action settlement that set policies for the treatment and release of minors caught at the border, families can only be detained for 20 days. Any attempt by the government to modify the agreement would likely face opposition from the lawyers who negotiated it, according to representatives of immigrant rights organizations.

Both he and Sanders refused to comment on the existence of an executive order draft.

Recent US media reports showed images of children crying as their parents were being apprehended by US Customs and Border Patrol agents.

It is unclear how long this will take to litigate or whether the judges would be willing to permit indefinite detention of minors.

Reyna Torres Mendivil, Mexico's consul general in San Antonio, told NPR's Audie Cornish that the process would be hampered by the US separation process, which keeps parents in federal custody while moving children into facilities controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services. Now the fight will probably move to the courts, with legal challenges to the administration's decision to hold detained families together while their immigration status is adjudicated.

Also, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and the heads of other agencies are ordered to find or construct facilities to house the detained families.

Republican congressional offices had been deluged with calls and emails from incensed constituents and lawmakers facing protests back home.

On Thursday, House Republicans will vote on two immigration bills.

With the immigration bills teetering in the House, the White House launched an eleventh-hour push to try to bring Republicans onboard.

Trump had tweeted early Wednesday, before issuing his order: "It's the Democrats fault, they won't give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation".

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