One of the pillars of policy for the Presidency of Donald Trump in the US is the unbending, unflinching policy of little to zero tolerance for illegal immigration, particularly from places as varied as Mexico to the south, to the nations of the Middle East. The first years of his term have focused on efforts to have a US-Mexico border wall built, to fighting with the courts over executive decisions detailing immigration bans. Recently he has been under fire anew for his immigration policy causing illegal parents getting separated from their children at the border. Now Trump is changing course.
CNN reports that US President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order that dials back on his earlier policy, enacted since May, that had the Department of Homeland Security and the National Guard intensify operations against illegal immigrants crossing the border with Mexico, which ended with the offenders in US custody and their children, if any were brought along, being left behind the line. The practice has caused some heartbreaking stories filtering into news and social media and renewed criticism for Trump’s administration. This time, changes would allow illegal immigrants to stay together with their children while in custody.
However, since the new EO procedures do not apply to the families of illegals that have already been separated, a big question mark hangs over the air regarding their fates. Some 2,300 separated children are currently in government shelters while their parents or relatives are bogged down in immigration proceedings. An administration official remarks that they are still discussing how best to implement the EO reforms to the earlier zero tolerance policy, joining a chorus of often conflicting pronouncements from other officials, such as what would happen to the accompanying immigrant children in the new system, where they are only held with their family for 20 days before being released.
Furthermore, the procedure of keeping illegally crossing families in the care of Homeland Security is being put to question by the Justice Department, originally the agency that confined the illegal adults while their children were separated from them. And President Trump himself is contributing to the confusion on the effectiveness of his EO by implying that it is not universal and some illegal families will still get separated. This part however, he blames on loopholes to the immigration policy thrown up by Democrats in the government and contrary court orders.
In a press conference following the EO signing on June 20, Counselor to the Attorney General Gene Hamilton spoke of an implementation phase for the policy change between Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services, but he would give no clarification or further details on that regard.
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