21 June 2018Hot off the Press
US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to “keep families together”, ending his policy to separate children and parents at the immigration border.
The order will require families to be detained together when they are caught trying to enter the country illegally for as long as the criminal proceedings take.
The president’s decision to abandon the policy has come after images of children in cell-like metal cages and audio recordings of crying, distressed children sparked outrage among human rights advocates, the media and the public, both in the US and abroad.
“It’s about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border,” Mr Trump said, while he sat in the Oval Office hastily signing the order before he was due to depart for a campaign event.
The reversal, a remarkably unusual decision for Mr Trump, will move parents with children to the front of the line for immigration proceedings to ask the Department of Defence to house them.
However, the order, while keeping families together, will still uphold the 10-week-old “zero tolerance” stance that calls for criminal prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally.
The move from Mr Trump was urged by his wife and First Lady, Melania Trump, as well as his daughter, Ivanka, who called upon the president to make changes to the policy to separate families.
“Ivanka feels very strongly. My wife feels very strongly about it. I feel very strongly about it,” Mr Trump said.
“I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it.”
The change is now the most significant policy reversal by Mr Trump since he took office in January 2017.