Trump Signs Order Ending His Family Separation Policy
Donald Trump has signed an executive order ending the controversial policy of family separation at the US-Mexico border after days of public outrage and bipartisan criticism.
In an apparent snub to Congressional Democrats, whom Mr Trump repeatedly, falsely blamed for the continuation of the policy, the executive order is titled “Affording Congress the Opportunity to Address Family Separation”. The executive order, however, does not actually eliminate the underlying issue: Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ “zero tolerance” policy on immigration.
The reversal comes after the controversial policy had led to more than 2,000 children to be separated from their families after they crossed the border illegally since last month. The parents have been charged with a crime, even those seeking asylum in the US, and children are unable to enter the US criminal justice system. With the new executive order, “family unity” will be maintained “where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources”.
The White House has not immediately responded to a request for comment on the matter, however the president told journalists during unscheduled remarks earlier in the day at a cabinet meeting: ”We’re looking to keep families together. Very important. We’re going to be signing an executive order. We are also going to count on Congress, obviously, but we are signing an executive order in a little while.” He said he planned to act before leaving to Minnesota for a political rally this evening.
He maintained though that the US will “maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don’t stand for and that we don’t want”. Mr Trump has referred to certain undocumented immigrants as “animals” in the past, saying he was only speaking of MS-13 gang members but critics took it to imply xenophobia.
“I think you have to understand, we’re keeping families together but we have to keep our borders strong. We will be overrun with crime and with people that should not be in our country,” the president repeated.
Vice President Mike Pence, also present at the Cabinet meeting, once again repeated a lie told by administration officials over and over again in the wake of public uproar over the family separation policy. Mr Pence said it was “the law” to separate children from families.
However, there is no US immigration law or court precedent that compels the federal government to do so. The policy laid out in May 2018 by Mr Sessions essentially made seeking asylum – which according to US law requires entry into the country first – a crime. When parents are detained within the criminal justice system, it necessitates separating children from them.
“The dilemma is that if you’re weak, if you’re weak, which some people would like you to be, if you’re really, really pathetically weak, the country’s going to be overrun with millions of people. And if you’re strong, then you don’t have any heart. That’s a tough dilemma. Perhaps I would rather be strong, but that’s a tough dilemma,” Mr Trump continued as a response to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham calling US immigration law “a mess”.