Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

President Trump signs executive order stopping family separations at border


The order does not override the 1993 Flores v. Reno Supreme Court case, which says that detained migrant children can not be held in government detention facilities for more than 20 days.

The House is to vote later this week on two bills that address broader immigration issues to protect young immigrant "Dreamers", who have been living in the US illegally since childhood, from deportation and fund Trump's border wall.

Mr Trump's own Republican Party, meanwhile, had been working on legislation to will allow families detained at the US-Mexico border to stay together, speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan said.

The plan, as described by administration officials, would keep families together in federal custody while awaiting prosecution for illegal border crossings, potentially violating a 1997 court settlement limiting the duration of child detentions.

The executive order says the government will prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally.

Still, Trump's order is likely to create a new set of problems involving length of detention of families, and may spark a fresh court fight.

"Putting children in the same cages as their parents isn't a solution", said Jose Servin, an activist with the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. The families are mostly from Central American countries. "We are asking Congress to change the laws".

In August 2016, 22 mothers incarcerated in "Berks Family Residential Center" with their children wrote a letter to Jeh Johnson-then-Secretary of DHS-stating, "Our children, who range in age from 2 to 16, have been deprived of a normal life".

Trump had repeatedly defended his immigration crackdown, including forcibly separating migrant children from their parents after they crossed the border.

Mr Trump had defended the policy, saying he would not allow the U.S. to become a "migrant camp", but he had recognised the issue was a growing political problem, according to White House sources. "There's lots of ways to do it and I'm not picky but I'd like to see us try to preserve families while we also uphold the law".

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"Trump said there was a need to sustain his zero tolerance" policy to prevent crime, which he blames illegal immigrants for.

For days, Trump and his top administration officials were unwilling to unilaterally reverse the separation policy, insisting that congressional action was required. Melania Trump has had several private conversations with her husband, pushing him to do all he can to keep families at the border intact, whether via a legislative route, or acting alone to stop the process, the official said.

Polls show the public is overwhelmingly opposed to separating children from their parents, though a majority of Republicans support the approach.

Let us not forget, however, that the president, Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the many Trump apologists in Congress and on Fox News and other conservative outlets have lost all credibility on the issue. As such, they would be held in federal facilities and separated from their children.

Meanwhile, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein - the UN's top human rights official - essentially accused the USA of committing child abuse. She was at the White House, where Trump told reporters he would be "signing something" shortly.

Ryan said the proposed legislation also resolves "in a very elegant way" the status of the so-called "Dreamers", undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

House homeland security committee chairman Michael McCaul said the president "is a thousand percent" behind the new bill, adding that families will not be separated if the bill passes.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wednesday that the House will vote on immigration legislation, despite signs that the bills up for consideration can not pass.

House leaders have been considering two competing bills.

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