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Trump gives in to pressure, orders end to family separation policy

23 June 2018

Supporters said they believed Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's false claims that they had no choice but to enforce an existing law.

U.S. President Donald Trump, addressing what his administration has characterized as an unwanted side effect of his zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration, signed an executive order on Wednesday (June 20) to keep families who illegally cross the U.S. southern border together as they await immigration proceedings.

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

Trump's "zero tolerance" policy refers all apprehended undocumented adults for criminal prosecution - a break with past administrations that limited criminal referral for most adults who illegally crossed into the USA with their juvenile family members.

Trump's order also calls for prioritising immigration cases involving detained families.

Earlier on Wednesday, American, United and Frontier airlines announced that they would no longer transport immigrant children who have been separated from their families.

That leaves to Republicans seeking to hold onto their seats in the midterms, and also retain control of Congress, the tough task of trying to seize on GOP voters' support for stricter immigration laws while avoiding the wrath from the unseemly practice of detaining children - even if they are with their parents.

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On the rescue ship Aquarius , women cradle babies, kids play games and people sleep - waiting for their ship to reach land. Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini arrives for gala dinner at the Quirinal palace in Rome, Italy, June 1, 2018.

Aside from Congressional Democrats, the Trump administration was facing major opposition from Republican lawmakers over its immigration policy. That's just what he did.

"This is a stopgap measure", said Gene Hamilton, counsel to the attorney general.

"Indefinite family detention is not a solution to the problem".

Of course, Trump will never admit he was forced to climb down from his hubris and flip on separating families, but even the Trump megaphone Breitbart News gets it: "Trump Buckles: Caves to Left-Wing Hate With Exec Order" read the Breitbart homepage Wednesday afternoon. It's unclear what happens if no changes to law or the settlement take place by the time families reach the detainment deadline.

And it didn't do much for the teeming outrage over the issue.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday went to a center in Manhattan that is caring for 239 migrant children separated from their parents.

After Trump's Capitol Hill meeting, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., said the president "mentioned that his daughter Ivanka encouraged him to end this". It's likely to be tied up in a court battle, and the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged hours after Trump signed the order in the Oval Office that the thousands of children being held now won't be reunited with their parents right away.

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In past administrations, most immigrant families were released while their immigration cases proceeded, and were not charged criminally for illegal entry if they didn't have prior criminal records.

Trump's family apparently played a role in his turnaround.

"For those children still in Border Patrol custody, we are reuniting them with parents or legal guardians returned to Border Patrol custody following prosecution", a CBP spokesperson said in the statement. They always meant to press immigration as a major topic in many 2018 contests, and the public's furor at the separation of families only validated that approach. Assessments for possible detention facilities at military bases have already been done in Texas and another is expected in Arkansas on Thursday.

"It's about keeping families together", Trump said at the signing ceremony. The official was not authorized to discuss Melania Trump's thinking on the record and spoke on the condition of anonymity. She was heckled at a restaurant Tuesday evening and has faced protesters at her home.

"It's the Democrats fault, they won't give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation". He called them "extremist open-border Democrats". But the Trump administration's policy has been to prosecute all border crossers instead of allowing some to be released under supervision and to stay with their children.

"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. If those options are exhausted, authorities must find the "least restrictive" setting for a child who arrived without parents.

Fiery Democratic leaders from Vermont to New Jersey to Texas met President Donald Trump's executive order to stop dividing immigrant families with deep skepticism, promising waves of protests, border visits and congressional oversight to shine new light on the Republican administration's immigration tactics.

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Australia's Labor Party leader Bill Shorten also congratulated the couple on the birth. She wrote on social media at the time: "We'll be joining the many parents out there who wear two hats".

Trump gives in to pressure, orders end to family separation policy