After claiming to have no legal authority to unilaterally amend a recent Justice Department directive that resulted in the separation of migrant children from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at keeping families together after being apprehended for crossing illegally.
“We’re going to have strong, very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together,” Trump said in the Oval Office, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
The president’s directive would allow DHS to “maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members.” It also directs the attorney general to request a modification to the Flores settlement, the court order that puts limits on detaining children, which could invite court challenges. Lawmakers are continuing to work on legislative solutions as well.
After the president met briefly GOP lawmakers at the Capitol on Tuesday evening, there was still no clear path forward for legislation. Lawmakers lacked consensus on strategy and policy, with a variety of proposals that so far lacked requisite support. Some members of Congress argued that the president had the power to amend the provision. Others urged Trump to halt the policy while Congress, notorious for gridlock on complicated issues, worked out a legislative alternative. Republican members also grew increasingly concerned about midterm consequences, given widespread backlash and public disapproval of a policy that resulted in separated families.
The president said he would be signing something that is “somewhat preemptive but ultimately will be matched by legislation.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon. Nielsen also briefed members.
On Thursday, the House is slated to consider to immigration proposals, both of which would address family separations by amending the Flores Agreement, which requires the government to release children from federal custody without unnecessary delay and into the care of a relative, guardian, or the “least restrictive” setting. Another measure, considered to be a more conservative proposal and sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, would provide temporary protections for Dreamers and would include cuts to legal immigration. Both would provide funding for a border wall. It is not clear, however, whether either has enough votes to clear the House.
Full story at RealClearPolitics.
Bishop Armando X. Ochoa of Fresno’s statement regarding executive order:
The Diocese of Fresno is encouraged by the Trump Administration’s reversal of policy regarding the separation of families and unification of children with their parents while under federal immigration detention. We urge the Administration and Congress to work together toward immediate legislation that will usher in comprehensive and fair immigration reform that protects human rights, family unity, security, and lawful protection of the nation’s borders.
Full statement at Diocese of Fresno website.
Bishop José Gomez of Los Angeles reacts to the executive order:
The Archbishop of Los Angeles said he “welcomes” an executive order signed Wednesday by President Trump, and called on Congress to act on immigration reform.
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Vice-President of the bishops’ conference, said “I welcome the President’s executive order ending the cruel family separation policy. Now Congress needs to act on immigration. With my brother (bishops) @USCCB, I am disappointed about the bills the House will vote on tomorrow.”
“We need a bipartisan bill like the #USAAct that provides a clear path to citizenship for #Dreamers and secures our borders. And we need it now,” Gomez added in a subsequent tweet.
The executive order laid the blame for family separation on Congress for its “failure to act” as well as court orders that “have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”
Full statement at Angelus News.