Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Trump announces he will sign an executive action to end family separation


President Donald Trump announced he would sign an executive order ending his administration's practice of separating immigrant families at the border during a meeting with members of Congress in the White House Cabinet Room on Wednesday.

"We do not want children taken away from their parents".

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader from NY, is adamant that Trump can end the family separations on his own and that legislation is not needed.

"We have to be very strong on the border, but at the same time we want to be very compassionate", Trump said at the White House during a meeting with lawmakers that was opened to the media. Vice President Mike Pence added that they are calling upon Congress to change the laws. Moreover, "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operates two large detention centers for families in Texas and a smaller one in Pennsylvania, but their combined capacity is about 3,000 beds".

He then accused rival Democrats of putting "illegal immigrants before they put American citizens".

Speaking at the 75th anniversary celebration of the National Federation of Independent Business on June 19, Trump expressed his desire to solve the problem.

Moderate Republicans facing reelection in swing districts won't vote for the conservative version of the legislation. 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.

The White House may run into legal difficulties if the executive order requires families to be held intact together indefinitely since a federal consent decree known as the Flores settlement says children must be released after 20 days.

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"Holding children hostage in concentration camps is the new political bargaining chip of this administration and it is unconscionable", Kristen Clarke, head of the Lawyers' Committee on Civil Rights, told reporters outside the US Capitol. The order does not end a "zero tolerance" policy that calls for criminal prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally. "We want the heart", he said, "but we also want strong borders and we want no crime".

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom President Donald Trump has quarreled with in recent weeks over trade, also condemned the separation policy.

"First, there are more than 2,000 children already separated from their parents; the executive order does nothing to address that nightmare", said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women's Refugee Commission.

In April, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions adopted a "zero tolerance" approach to illegal border crossings at the US-Mexico border. Former President Barack Obama, who has been conspicuously silent during the child separation crisis, made family incarceration the mainstay of his response to mass displacement from Central America. As such, they would be held in federal facilities and separated from their children. Here's what we know about the current immigration policy and what the new executive order will change. "Congress needs to provide a permanent fix for this situation", he said.

With influential Republicans including senators John McCain and John Cornyn demanding an end to the separations, the House of Representatives is expected to consider two immigration bills.

In the order, Trump directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request to modify a settlement a year ago over the enforcement of the Flores ruling and try to get the courts to allow families to be detained together.

"Locking up whole families is no solution at all - the Trump Administration must reverse its policy of prosecuting vulnerable people fleeing three of the most risky countries on earth, who are attempting to seek safe haven in America".

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