President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday halting his administration’s practice of separating parents from their children while they are prosecuted for crossing the southern border illegally.
The U.S. must have a “very powerful, very strong border,” the president told reporters. “At the same time we have compassion. We want to keep families together. It’s very important….I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
Since the debut of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all adults who cross into the U.S. illegally, at least 2,300 children have been separated from their parents or guardians. The president said Wednesday that the policy will continue, but families will be detained together going forward.
“It is the policy of this Administration to rigorously enforce our immigration laws,” the order reads. “It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources. It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”
The problem of immigration has plagued many administrations, the president said, lamenting the lack of “political courage” needed to fix the broken system before adding that he expects Congress to match his executive order with legislation soon.