This Washington Post piece caused a little confusion and had to be corrected, but the basic thrust of it is correct. Customs and Border Protection isn’t going to refer adults with children for prosecution, thus ending the application of “zero tolerance” to adults with kids. No mechanism currently exists to get people from DHS custody to courthouses for court dates, so there is no plausible way to hold families together while prosecuting adults. Plus, the adults who were going over to criminal custody will be transferred over to already overwhelmed DHS facilities, meaning lots of people will simply be released.
The administration will probably try to rapidly build tent cities and hold migrants in 20-day increments, hoping they will come up with a way to criminally charge the adults and resolve asylum claims quickly, but this seems unlikely (and the optics will open it up to continued attack). The administration hasn’t just lost this battle in a rout, but in a manner that may harm its cause in the larger war over immigration policy and enforcement. It’s quite simply a debacle.