UPDATED June 20, 2018 at 3:36 p.m.
Trump signs executive order to keep families together at border, says ‘zero-tolerance’ prosecution policy will continue.
The New York Times reports that the new executive order seeks to modify that existing consent decree in order to keep parents and children together in detention. However, Amnesty International says that those detentions could now be indefinite.
“Make no mistake—this executive order is a betrayal of families fleeing violence and persecution,” Denise Bell, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Amnesty International USA said in a statement.
“Mothers, fathers, and children must not be held behind bars for prolonged periods for seeking safety. Not only does imprisoning children go against our country’s shared values of dignity and equality, but it is also unlawful and threatens to permanently stain the U.S. human rights record.”
During an early afternoon meeting on Wednesday with members of Congress at the White House, President Donald Trump reportedly was going to announce an end to a major crisis in which migrant families are being separated after they are detained crossing the U.S. border.
Instead, while sitting at a table with a group of white men, reflecting the composition of his administration, and pontificating about the fate of Latino families, Trump told reporters change may come in a “little while.”
“I’ll be doing something that’s somewhat preemptive and ultimately will be matched by legislation I’m sure,” he said.
“We want security for our country. We will have that as the same time we have compassion … I’ll be signing something in a little while that’s going to do that.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, at the meeting Wednesday, reportedly drafted an executive action for Trump that would direct her department to keep families together.
But no specific details were discussed.
Nielsen has defended the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy for migrants trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico without visas.
She has falsely claimed family separation is not a new policy. Nielsen said federal law requires family separation when parents, even those legally seeking asylum, are held for prosecution.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House spokeswoman, told reporters, “We’ll keep you posted. When we have an announcement to make, we’ll make it.”
The New York Times reported Trump was preparing an executive order that ends the separation of families by indefinitely detaining parents and children together, flouting a court settlement that prohibits such a move, according to a person familiar with his plans.
Currently, the Trump administration is sending infants and other young children forcibly separated from their parents to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas.
A teenage girl at a South Texas facility separated from her aunt had to teach other children how to change the diaper of a 4-year-old girl who had been separated from family members, according to The Associated Press.