After facing intense backlash for his administration’s family-separation policy, Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end the practice of ripping immigrant children from their parents. It appears that his compromise is to detain entire families together.
Under the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which was first announced in May, children were separated from their parents at the border while their parents faced trial for entering the country illegally. The result: Over 2,000 children were placed in detention alone, in conditions that were widely decried as inhumane, with no clear path for reuniting with the loved ones with whom they’d traveled.
After weeks of insisting that the Democrats were to blame for the family-separation policy, and that it was not in his power to stop it, Trump ended the practice on Wednesday. He did not, however, end the “zero-tolerance” policy of prosecuting all adults who do not enter the U.S. through a port of entry.
“It’s about keeping families together while at the same time being sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border, and border security will be equal if not greater than previously,” Trump said from the Oval Office, adding, “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
The family-separation policy has become a full-blown crisis for the Trump administration in recent weeks. On Monday, the government released images of unaccompanied children being held in cage-like cells and huddled under foil blankets, adding to the nationwide outrage.
Under Trump’s new directive, border-patrol agents will no longer be separating children from their parents — the children will instead be detained alongside their parents indefinitely. The order emphasizes that entering the U.S. without using a designated port of entry is a crime and will be prosecuted as such, but now “the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”
Vicki Gaubeca, the director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, slammed the order for continuing the practice of detaining immigrant children, some as young as 18 months, in prison-like conditions.
“Trump’s executive order aims to lock up kids with their parents indefinitely,” she told the Cut. “That means that children will continue to be locked up in cages, causing them irreparable psychological harm. These kids are precious human beings who need to be with their families in their communities, where they are the safest. A true solution would have rescinded the zero-tolerance policy or restored alternative programs to detention that are highly successful — programs that Trump has cancelled, by the way.”
As he signed the order, Trump reportedly remarked, “You’re going to have a lot of happy people.”
To see how you can help families separated at the border, please click here.