President Trump Signs Order to End Family Separations at Border
Jun 23, 2018, 02:13
President Donald Trump's administration separated nearly 2,000 immigrant children from their parents at the border over the span of six weeks from mid-April through May.
- President Donald Trump postponed Thursday's annual White House picnic for members of Congress, saying the "timing doesn't feel right" given the situation at the U.S. -Mexico border, where the government has been separating migrant children from families entering the country illegally. "And we also add new judges so that we can expedite the hearing they're entitled to, and dispose of their case either by sending them back together as a family or admitting them into the country as a family".
The order maintains an exception for when the child is at risk or there is concern the parent would pose a risk to the child's welfare.
Mr Trump's backtrack came on World Refugee Day, which his predecessor Barack Obama had used to call for an end to the practice of splitting children from their parents.
Anastasia Tonello, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association said the detention of families - parents and children - who pose no flight risk or danger to the community is simply "unacceptable, abrogates global responsibilities to refugees, and goes against our country's most fundamental values".
The order has two additional provisions regarding the Justice Department.
"This is a stopgap measure", said Gene Hamilton, counsel to the attorney general.
So Trump's order is likely to create a fresh set of problems and may well spark a new court fight. It was not immediately clear whether the caveat means some separations will still happen.
Polls show the public is overwhelmingly opposed to separating immigrant children from their parents, though a majority of Republicans support the approach.
And it didn't do much for the teeming outrage over the issue.
"They're not sending their finest", he said of the countries from which the migrants had fled.
Six American airlines have told the Trump administration not to use their aircraft to transport child migrants who have been separated from their parents.
Federal officials gave differing accounts Wednesday about the fate of children already separated from their parents.
After her father took office, Ivanka Trump said she aimed to "be a force for good and to make a positive impact" in her White House role.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that the chamber will vote on immigration legislation on Thursday that would end family separations, but the chances of its passing are unclear.
The administration has consistently said it was forced to separate families because of the conclusion of a court case known as "the Flores Settlement".
"It wasn't as politicized an issue then", said Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas who voted against the 1986 immigration bill in the House. "No one, not even a president, can change who we are as America and what we stand for - if we the people stand united and unleash all that power that is in our hands". Those people were not authorized to speak publicly and commented only on condition of anonymity. On Monday evening, she faced protesters at her home.
In the briefing that lasted about 10 minutes, Nielsen explained the order Trump had signed an hour earlier to keep immigrant families together as they await immigration proceedings. He called them "extremist open-border Democrats". "Republicans want security. But I am working on something - it never ends!" Just in the past few days he had insisted his hands were tied by law on the issue of family separations even though his administration implemented a "zero tolerance" policy.
Meanwhile, the order says nothing about reuniting the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents.
In that program, children typically are connected with friends, relatives or other suitable volunteers to care for them, but in most cases, the children were alone when they entered the United States illegally. If those options are exhausted, authorities must find the "least restrictive" setting for a child who arrived without parents. To achieve its goal of prosecuting all illegal-entry cases, the government must hold parents in detention-but Flores bars the government from holding children under such circumstances for long periods of time.
In addition, the order blames Congress and court decisions made in the past for putting the Trump administration in a position where it had to separate families in order to effectively enforce the law.
It has a federal contract to place unaccompanied immigrant children in short-term foster care.
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