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Trump signs executive order to end separation of immigrant families

23 June 2018

Even some of the president's biggest Republican supporters said they disagree with his policy.

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 Trump administration separated more than 2,000 children from their parents since early May, garnering overwhelming backlash from the public.

Trump's decision to reverse course comes despite the fact that administration officials have insisted for days that only Congress could fix the problem. Trump officials could not say how many of those children have been reunited with their mothers and fathers.

While President Donald Trump doubles down on the incendiary immigration rhetoric that excited his base in 2016, the most vulnerable Republicans in 2018 find themselves under renewed attack from Democrats over the administration's "zero tolerance" policy at the border.

Some Republicans in competitive races this fall broke with Trump on the policy but didn't directly blame the President, instead choosing to vaguely blame Washington or Congress. "And they are going for the country extremely well", the president said.

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GOP lawmakers were feeling upbeat after meeting with President Trump on Capitol Hill as haunting images of crying children separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border is sparking outrage among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. "There will not be a grandfathering of existing cases", Health and Human Services Department spokesperson Kenneth Wolfe said.

Signing an executive order to reverse his own administration's practice would also be unnecessary since nearly everyone in Washington, apart from the President, agrees that he already has the power to end the separations any time he wants.

The policy had led to a spike in family separations in recent weeks, with more than 2,300 minors were separated from their families at the border from May 5 through June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

But he went ahead Wednesday with a scheduled trip to Duluth, Minnesota, including a nighttime "Make America Great Again" campaign rally for a Republican congressional candidate. "We're working on a much more comprehensive bill", said Trump, who was flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Nielsen. An audio recording purported to feature Central American children separated from their parents sobbing and wailing has also struck a nerve.

The two immigration bills under consideration in the House could address the separations, but the outlook for passage is dim. Conservatives say the compromise legislation that GOP leaders helped negotiate with moderates is inadequate.

The order does not end the "zero-tolerance" policy that criminally prosecutes all adults caught crossing the border illegally.

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Instead, the process requires coordination between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which holds numerous parents, and HHS, which takes custody of children and places them with adult "sponsors". They may be transferred to detention facilities run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or possibly released with some form of electronic monitoring, such as an ankle bracelet, while pursuing an asylum claim.

More than 50 people pushed strollers through the streets of Newark and gathered in front of the federal building where more than a dozen mothers breastfeed their babies Friday in a "Nurse-in" to protest the Trump administration's treatment of immigrant families. "Do we look away, or do we choose to see something of ourselves and our children?" Justice lawyers were planning to file a challenge to the agreement, known as the Flores settlement, asking that a judge allow for the detention of families until criminal and removal proceedings are completed.

Both bills include language to end the controversial White House policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the border.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, pleaded with Republicans on the panel to end what he called "internment camps".

The measure would also offer protections to another vulnerable group - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients - who are undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

"It's the Democrats fault, they won't give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation", he tweeted.

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Trump signs executive order to end separation of immigrant families