Trump Says He’ll End Family Separation Policy He Claimed He Couldn’t Change

He’s expected to sign an executive order later on Wednesday.

Evan Vucci/AP

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President Donald Trump says he will soon sign an executive action to end the forced family separations he repeatedly claimed he couldn’t stop. 

The New York Times reports that the order will call for indefinitely detaining families. That would mark a sharp departure from the current requirement, as dictated by a 2016 court ruling, that children be released from family detention within 20 days. The order will almost certainly prompt legal challenges.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is drafting the executive action that would direct the Department of Homeland Security to detain families together after crossing the border without authorization, the Associated Press reports. Nielsen arrived at the White House on Wednesday before Trump held the press conference where he announced he’d be signing the order. Nielsen had told reporters on Monday that only Congress could stop the family separations.  

Under the order, families will be kept in immigration detention centers, an administration official told the Washington Post. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement operates three family detention centers, and they currently have little additional capacity. Placing children in ICE’s adult detention facilities would likely violate the 1997 Flores settlement agreement, which requires that migrant children be held in the least restrictive setting possible. (The 2016 court ruling that required ICE to quickly release children from family detention centers was based on the Flores settlement.)

Trump and other administration officials have falsely claimed that the law requires them to separate families. In reality, the Trump administration chose to separate families by criminally prosecuting parents. The Justice Department does not have to prosecute parents who cross the border with their children.

The Trump administration pushed to detain migrant families indefinitely long before it began separating them under the zero-tolerance initiative. It now appears to be using the family separation crisis it created as a justification to put that policy into place.   

Trump administration officials said on Tuesday that 2,342 children were separated from 2,206 parents between May 5 and June 9. That means that an average of about 65 children per day were separated from their parents along the US-Mexico under the  administration’s zero-tolerance initiative.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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