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Trump to sign decree to end migrant family separations

21 June 2018
Trump to sign decree to end migrant family separations

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to end the policy of separating children of irregular migrants on the US border amid domestic and global outrage.

But a 1997 landmark settlement known as the Flores agreement that generally bars the government from keeping children in immigration detention for more than 20 days remains in place.

Since early May, more than 2,000 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the U.S. -Mexico border illegally, as part of the administration's new immigration strategy, which prompted widespread outcry.

Family separation has seen a recent uptick due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "zero-tolerance" policy for illegal entry at the U.S. -Mexico border.

While the order would keep families together, it is unclear how officials will be able to navigate the legal constraints on the appropriate treatment of children under government custody, according to the report.

He did not immediately provide details of the bill, but said that it resolves the issue of so-called Dreamers, undocumented adult migrants who entered the U.S. as children, "in a very elegant way".

Top conservatives, including key Trump allies, have introduced bills to keep the migrant families together.

Trump backed down as House Republicans hit a stalemate on the broader immigration legislation and the Senate was still in negotiations on a narrowly focused bill to keep families together.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said Trump told lawmakers he "would continue to support the legislation, and that people shouldn't be anxious that he would change his mind".

So what happens to the children who have been separated from their parents?

Trump acknowledged a possible legal show-down when he said during his announcement in the Oval Office, "There may be some litigation". "We left so that my family could be safe".

"We have a House that is getting ready to finalize an immigration package that they're going to brief me on later, and then I'm going to make changes to it", Trump said, without providing details about what he plans to change.

It was a dramatic turnaround for Trump, who has been insisting, wrongly, that his administration had no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border because of federal law and a court decision.

Trump, a frequent viewer of cable television newscasts, had recognised the family separation issue was a growing political problem, White House sources said. This rule has led to harsher prosecutions and the further erosion of due process-and it helped lay the groundwork for family separation.

Meanwhile, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein - the UN's top human rights official - essentially accused the United States of committing child abuse.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reported, the order allows families to be held in detention together but does not reverse the administration's "zero tolerance" policy. "We're working on a much more comprehensive bill", said Trump, who was flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Nielsen.

Since children can not be sent to the facilities where their parents are held, they are separated from them. Nielsen arrived at the White House on Wednesday before Trump held the press conference where he announced he'd be signing the order.

As NBC News points out, the order does not include any plans on how the government will reunite children now separated from their families.

A potential executive order could emerge as a fallback option for the administration if it wants to alleviate the crisis should the House bill not pass - but talk that it is a possibility seems likely to undermine momentum for Republican senators to take a tough immigration vote.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., a member of the House Freedom Caucus, says he doesn't like compromise bill "because it's all compromising in one direction".