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Trump signs order to end splitting of migrant families

23 June 2018

It provides $25 billion Trump wants for his promised border wall from Mexico.

U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order on immigration policy in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2018. Officials have said they were working to reunite families as soon as possible but provided no clear answers on how that was going to happen.

Mr Trump's executive order reads: "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".

In an ironic twist to the anti-immigrant stance of the President and his team, the United States also announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council for unrelated reasons, denouncing it as a "cesspool of political bias". In a media call after the order was released, senior Justice Department official Gene Hamilton suggested that, absent new authority from a federal judge to detain children for longer than is now allowed, the practice of separating families may resume at the 20-day mark.

It was unclear whether that meant the Trump administration was dropping its months-old "zero tolerance" policy of prosecuting all adults caught trying to enter the country illegally.

A federal prosecutor said "there was no prosecution sought" in light of Trump's executive order ending the practice of separating families.

Videos of youngsters in cages and an audiotape of wailing children have sparked anger in the United States from groups ranging from clergy to influential business leaders, as well as condemnation from overseas. "Certainly if this doesn't get fixed soon, there could be a cost", he said, though he noted that he was not anxious about his own district.

"I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated", Trump said. And it wasn't the first time that Ivanka Trump, as well as her husband and fellow influential presidential adviser, Jared Kushner, had tried to fly under the radar during crisis and tumult in her father's administration.

The kitchen-sink approach comes as Democrats work to sustain the energy of the Trump resistance heading into this fall's midterm elections when the GOP's House and Senate majorities are at stake. "We are going to have very strong borders, but we're going to keep the families together", he said. I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it.

The policy and its upshot stirred some of the most hostile reaction yet of any Trump initiative. Instinctively combative and fond of chaos, Trump usually digs in on controversial policies, rather than backing down.

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While the establishment media and Democrats have focused primarily on this tiny sample of child border crossers taken from the adults they traveled across the border with, the number of American children who have been separated from their parents is vastly higher.

Around 2,300 children, some as young as four, were separated from their families in the weeks since the controversial policy went into effect in May. A senior Justice Department official told The Associated Press that hasn't changed. The directive may violate a 1997 court settlement and a 2008 law that require special handling of immigrant children. 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.

As a crisis of migrant children separated from their families provoked national outrage, President Donald Trump said he was powerless to act through an executive order.

Two people close to Nielsen said she was the driving force behind the turnabout that led to the new order keeping families together. The executive order replaces family separation with family detention.

He said he had been swayed by images of children who have been taken from parents while they are jailed and prosecuted for illegal border-crossing.

"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.

The order dictates other agencies, including the Pentagon, to take steps to find places to house family units.

The president met House Republicans on Tuesday discuss immigration legislation, with the family separation policy as a central topic.

"What is the objective of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct (which they feel is good for them in the Mid-Terms)", Trump tweeted.

Trump signs order to end splitting of migrant families