UNITED STATES—On Wednesday, June 20, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to stop the separation of families at the border.
In a statement from the Oval OFfice, President Trump wrote: “We’re signing an executive order I consider to be a very important executive order. It’s about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border. And border security will be equal, if not greater than previously. So we’re going to have strong — very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together. I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated. It’s a problem that’s gone on for many years, as you know, through many administrations. And we’re working very hard on immigration. It’s been left out in the cold. People haven’t dealt with it, and we are dealing with it.”
He added: “It’s all about keeping families together while at the same time being sure that we have a very strong, very secured border. Border security will be equal if not greater than previously.”
Trump’s decision came after he expressed support for his “zero-tolerance” policy.
Despite the backlash, the Trump administration is not the first administration to separate families at the border. Former President George W. Bush imposed a “zero-tolerance” policy. According to the Huffington Post, families were detained together in ICE custody under the Obama Administration, but ICE deported over 72,000 parents who had at least one U.S.-born child in 2013.
President Trump received backlash after photos and videos surfaced of children being separated and held in separate areas from their parents. One of those photos was from 2014 when POTUS Barack Obama was in office. The 2014 photo was tweeted by Jon Favreau, a former speechwriter for President Obama, with the caption, “Look at these pictures. This is happening right now, and the only debate that matters is how we force our government to get these kids back to their families as fast as humanly possible.”
President Trump argued that the photo was not accurately dated. It was discovered that the photo was published on June 18, 2014, in an article written by the Arizona Republic. Jon Favreau later deleted the photo and added the correct date citation along with an apology for not fact-checking beforehand.
According to the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, it’s unlawful to detain minors for over 20 days. According to the White House’s Fact Sheet on immigration, “The Flores Settlement and court decisions supporting it have hampered the Governments ability to detain and promptly remove many Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC’s) and family units.”
According to the Global Detention Project website, “The law requires that these children be placed in the least restrictive setting in their best interests and they are generally held in a network of state-licensed, government-funded private care providers that are meant to offer education, healthcare, and case management services.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspections and Special Reviews document outlines the protocols from 2005 stating, “On occasion, such when criminal charges are filed against the parent or bed space is not available in a family shelter, DRO is unable to keep the juvenile with the adult relative.”
The White House cites on its website that, “Loopholes in our asylum laws are subject to exploitation, contributing to significant spikes in asylum claims in recent years.” The number of asylum claims in 2017 was the highest number of claims in over 20 years.
President Trump took to Twitter writing, “Democrats want open borders, where anyone can come into our country, and stay! This is Nancy Pelosi’s dream. It won’t happen!”
Written By Katie Trojano and Kiley Cuellar