Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Trump stops family separation, but continues 'zero tolerance'

Trump stops family separation, but continues 'zero tolerance'

She came under fire late last month for a social media post with her young son, both in pajamas, cuddling in the days after the policy of separating children from their parents at the border came to light. Trump had vigorously defended his "zero tolerance" policy on illegal migrants, saying it was his response to obsolete laws, and needed to secure the southern borders of the U.S. from an "immigration crisis" that is enabling criminals, such as members of the MS-13 global gang, to enter his country.

The zero tolerance policy, with mandatory separation of children from adults, was announced May 7 as a deterrent.

The Flores settlement, named for a teenage girl who brought the case in the 1980s, requires the government to release children from custody and to their parents, adult relatives or other caretakers, in order of preference.

The administration also has sought a permanent legislative fix on the issue, but congressional Republicans said the U.S. House of Representatives was likely to reject two immigration bills created to halt the practice of splitting up families and address a range of other immigration issues.

The president on Wednesday signed an executive order that at least temporarily halts the practice of separating migrant families trying to cross the border illegally.

"Let's be clear that Trump is making a crisis of his own creation worse", said Karen Tumlin, director of legal strategy at the National Immigration Law Center, in a press call on Wednesday.

A third defendant said she fled Guatemala with her 9-year-old son after being threatened with violence and crossed the border near Presidio, Texas, on May 14, where they were arrested.

"So we're going to have strong - very strong borders, but we're going to keep the families together".

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A compromise Republican bill addresses family separations, offering protections for some undocumented migrants and provides funding for Mr Trump's long-promised border wall. The group also filed a class-action suit in February in San Diego federal court over family separation of individuals seeking asylum and the judge set a hearing for Thursday to discuss the new White House executive order. The order would ask the Department of Defense to help house the detained families.

Business and religious leaders, four former US first ladies and Trump's wife, Melania Trump, also voiced sharp criticism of the policy to split up migrant families, many of them escaping poverty and turmoil in Central America, as they illegally crossed the USA border.

An earlier report from Fox News Channel said the Trump administration was considering an executive order that would allow immigrant families who cross the border illegally to stay together longer than is now permitted.

Homeland Security officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

After visiting Capitol Hill Tuesday night to rally a broad immigration bill, Trump said Wednesday he still hopes that Congress will act.

Immigrant advocates across Southern California and the nation said the president's order has the effect of jailing families together while offering no plan on how those already separated will be reunited. "We're working on a much more comprehensive bill", Trump said before signing the order.

"The U.S. authorities create different files for the children than for the parents, and it's very hard to follow up on those cases", Torres said.

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