U.S. President Donald Trump backed down on Wednesday on an immigration policy that sparked outrage at home and overseas, signing an executive order to end the separation of children from their parents when immigrant families are caught crossing the U.S. -Mexico border illegally.
Until Wednesday, the president, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials had repeatedly argued the only way to end the practice was for Congress to pass new legislation, while Democrats said he could do it with his signature alone.
"I am also deeply troubled to hear reports that the administration, in its haste to hold innocent children hostage in order to demand funds for a border wall, failed to plan appropriately to reunite these families following their separation", the Democrat said.
While it will not reverse the "zero-tolerance" policy on immigration, Trump is expected to sign an executive order that will let families to be held together during prosecution and deportation, according to CBS News.
Top Democratic leader Congressman Joe Crowley said while this order stops the separation of children from their parents, it does not end the administration's despicable policy of unreasonably detaining asylum seekers and families fleeing violence.
It will be the new policy of the administration "to maintain family unity" by keeping them in family detention centers, at U.S. military bases, "where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources". Trump's executive order instructs the attorney general to go to court to seek a change in the Flores settlement, a consent decree that says the government can't detain immigrant children for more than 20 days.
He said there is nothing wrong with the administration seeking to modify the Flores settlement, but expects it will fail.
The Texas Civil Rights Project works to document the separations in the hopes of helping them reunite with the children.
Wednesday's executive order did not end the administration's "zero tolerance" policy. Finally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is directed to prioritize the adjudication of cases involving detained families. She had come to the United States from El Salvador, and immigration authorities detained her with adults and subjected her to daily strip searches.More news: Supreme Court rules in internet sales tax case
"The solution to family separation is not indefinite family detention", the organization said. But cases where there is a concern that parents "would pose a risk to the child's welfare" have been exempted from the executive order.
Trump had tweeted earlier Wednesday that he was "working on something".
The president made the dramatic u-turn Wednesday afternoon amid a growing outcry over distraught children being separated from their families and put in detention centers.
It is unclear what will happen to the children already separated, though some DHS officials have suggested there is no provision for including them in the ruling.
The images of crying toddlers among the almost 2,000 children who were taken from their parents during a six-week period this spring are appalling.
Few things make President Trump more pleased than being able to say he fixed a problem no one else could - even if it's because the problem didn't exist until he created it.
Trump's said the order does not alter the "zero tolerance" policy itself that the administration put in place in April.
From May, when the policy was enacted, through June 9, nearly 2,300 children have been separated from their parents, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
In 2015, a federal judge in Los Angeles expanded the terms of the settlement, ruling that it applies to children who are caught with their parents as well as to those who come to the USA alone.