In a landmark policy-reversal action Wednesday, June 20, President Donald Trump has officially signed an executive order that would end the administration’s policy of separating the families of illegal immigrants as they were traveling across the U.S.-Mexico border.
As reported by Politico, the president was quoted as saying “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated. I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated.”
He was joined in the Oval Office for his statement and executive action-signing by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as well as Vice President Mike Pence.
Although easing up on families as a whole, the president maintained that he plans to enforce a strict policy at the border regardless.
“We are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”
Trump, who is notorious for not succumbing to outside pressures, ceded to the complaints of lawmakers, activists, and even former first ladies who all expressed immediate disdain for the actions of the administration.
After the photos of immigrant children being detained in cages crying for their parents were blasted all over every major news network and media outlet, the president received harsh criticism for what many deemed to be actions detrimental to the child’s overall well-being and just plain cruel.
Apparently, the decision to create this executive order came quickly and without warning as many key White House contributors were apparently left in the dark and learned about the developments only late this afternoon, directly before the president announced it.
Trump’s executive order: Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation https://t.co/YAFbdXqsek
— POLITICO (@politico) June 20, 2018
Aside from White House staff, even the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement legal team was reportedly not informed of the major policy shift. A former DHS official told Politico that “it sounds like they blindsided everybody.”
Secretary Nielsen and other officials from the Justice Department apparently went to work drafting the order early Wednesday morning. The contents of it would basically provide that immigrant families would not be separated by the Department of Homeland Security, as well as a provision to find housing for these individuals due to facilities being at capacity at the moment.
Official reports stated the Nielsen was a “key player” in the decision-making process and helped move the order along throughout the day.
Despite the decision, many are still questioning what problems politics at the border will still bring upon migrant families detained there. The American Civil Liberties Union is already raising legal action on the behalf of detained families against the government, as well as expressing fears that detention times will only extend and that detention centers will continue to be built.