Published: Fri, June 22, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Donald Trump, nervous Republicans scramble for legislative fix to family separation crisis

Donald Trump, nervous Republicans scramble for legislative fix to family separation crisis

President Donald Trump's executive order on Wednesday ended his Administration's policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S. -Mexico border - but did not address the 2,300 immigrant children who have been taken from their families since early May.

And some experts said Trump's order to halt the policy of separating children from families caught illegally crossing the Mexican border only created more chaos and confusion. The president exercised power that he insisted last week he did not have.

Legal experts said this language could be exploited by the government to separate families on various grounds and be challenged in court, potentially adding to the welter of litigation against Trump's hardline immigration policy. Former President Barack Obama received considerable pushback from immigrant rights advocates and some Democrats when he expanded family detention and had to limit the length of time families were held under the 2015 court order.

Mr. Trump was more pointed: "They don't care about the children". The administration is not ending its "zero tolerance" approach to border prosecutions.

As of June 9, the three facilities had almost 2,600 of those beds occupied, according to the latest available ICE figures.

The zero tolerance policy, with mandatory separation of children from adults, was announced May 7 as a deterrent. But officials still have not laid out a plan for reuniting children and their parents.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio welcomed the executive order.

"It's the Democrats fault, they won't give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation", Trump tweeted June 20. The order directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "promptly" request that Judge Dolly Gee, the federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California who oversees the Flores settlement, modify the agreement to allow for extended detention of children with their parents "throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings". "I thought the whole point of this was to reunite the kids", he said.

The order signed by Trump on Wednesday calls for those families to be detained together but it permits separation if deemed that detention with a parent "would pose a risk to the child's welfare".

"I was a prosecutor for many years, and you have prosecutorial discretion to allow the prosecutor to say that it would be an injustice if we really prosecuted to the full extent of the law". But Ryan believes Trump would need to veto that bill, and as his speakership winds down he's defending the president from having to cross that threshold. In a media call after the order was released, senior Justice Department official Gene Hamilton suggested that, absent new authority from a federal judge to detain children for longer than is now allowed, the practice of separating families may resume at the 20-day mark.

Trump's executive order would instead keep entire families in ICE detention centers, most likely in violation of the 9th Circuit Court's ruling on the Flores Settlement. On Tuesday, a top official from the Department of Health and Human Services admitted they have no system in place to do so. That came after the Washington Post cited an unnamed official as saying that prosecutions of parents who cross into the United States illegally would be suspended until Immigration and Customs Enforcement could "accelerate resource capacity to allow us to maintain custody".

"You can't (end the separation of families at the border) through an executive order".

Like this: