Trump backs down on separating immigrant children, legal problems remain

23 June, 2018, 01:09 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell Promises Fix on Family Border Separations

Critics have countered that Mr Trump unilaterally created the situation that produced the heart-rending accounts of children separated from their parents, and he could unilaterally fix it. Eternally wary of appearing weak in the face of critics, Trump wrestled for days with how to confront the humanitarian and political crisis, people familiar with his thinking said, but took outside advice only fleetingly.

Ivanka Trump was in the room to witness her father's announcement of the executive order rolling back the harshest part of the policy his team had put in place six weeks ago. We know that because the administration made clear it considered the threat of taking children from mothers to be useful as a deterrent to further migrants.

When the crisis of family separations erupted at the border, GOP leaders revised the bill to bolster a provision requiring parents and children to be held together in custody.

US Congressman Beto O'Rourke after reading the executive order was left questioning how the executive order will reunite immigrant children with their parents. Before his U-turn on Wednesday the president had previously said "you can't do it through an executive order", insisting that only Congress could fix the policy by passing immigration reform.

"Huddling with the GOP at the Capitol on Tuesday evening, Trump stopped short of giving a full-throated endorsement to immigration legislation meant to unite the moderate and conservative wings of the House Republican conference.

They get their meals, they have athletics every day, so we believe that we are doing the best we can to take care of these children extremely well".

The president and his top aides have insisted for days that they had no choice but to separate children from their parents due to unspecified US laws.

"We still have to maintain toughness, or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don't stand for and we don't want", he said. "If the president thinks placing families in jail indefinitely is what people have been asking for, he is grossly mistaken", Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. The biggest change here is that families will be detained together while their cases are being prosecuted. VOA's Congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson has more. In April, the United States attorney general announced a "zero-tolerance" policy to criminally charge and jail undocumented border crossers. As a matter of regulation, they were not allowed to be detained with their parents during legal proceedings. In the past, the government released entire families once the clock ran out. Perhaps more importantly, 70 percent of women disapprove, according to a Quinnipiac University poll taken June 14-17.

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In her letter, Lee said, "I am appalled by the reports and images from detention facilities in Texas and other states along the border, where more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents by border patrol agents".

Pelosi said using terrified small children as "leverage" to push the President's anti-immigrant agenda represents an "unspeakably appalling moral low-point for our nation".

"The administration still plans to criminalize families - including children - by holding them in prison-like detention facilities".

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.

But even if the order stops future family separations, it is unclear what happens to children already separated from their parents - particularly in cases where the adults have already been deported.

In 2016, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that child migrants who came to the border with parents and were held in custody must be released.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinted at that when he spoke of the consequences of the "zero tolerance" policy that he announced May 7.


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