What’s next for migrant families after Trump’s order to stop separations?

Donald Trump signs order to end family separations

The executive order does not undo or diminish Sessions' zero tolerance policy, which has caused the spike in parent-child separations at the southern border.

The president also accused human traffickers of using children as a free pass to enter the country.

The Trump administration came under intense criticism for its "zero-tolerance" policy after recent images from a detention center in Texas showed children locked up in cages. In a media call after the order was released, senior Justice Department official Gene Hamilton suggested that, absent new authority from a federal judge to detain children for longer than is now allowed, the practice of separating families may resume at the 20-day mark.

Trump's "zero tolerance" policy refers all apprehended undocumented adults for criminal prosecution - a break with past administrations that limited criminal referral for most adults who illegally crossed into the US with their juvenile family members.

Trump said Wednesday that while "we're going to have strong, very strong borders. we're going to keep families together".

Videos of youngsters in cages and an audiotape of wailing children had sparked anger in the United States from groups ranging from clergy to influential business leaders, as well as condemnation from overseas, including Pope Francis.

Lopez, 54, said Trump "really cares for the United States of America and the people of the United States of America and to protect us from people that want to hurt us".

Trump, whose administration weeks ago began separating hundreds of children from their parents at the border, did not describe the specifics of the order.

"We're signing an executive order". Trump said there was a need to remain tough to prevent crime. "This will solve that problem and at the same time we are keeping a very strong border". "I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it", Trump said.

A Pentagon memo to members of Congress, obtained by the AP, said the military has been asked to have the facilities available as early as July, through the end of the year.

He had tried to blame Democrats for the policy of separating children from parents and force them into concessions, including funding for a wall he wants to build along the border with Mexico. They always meant to press immigration as a major topic in many 2018 contests, and the public's furor at the separation of families only validated that approach.

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White House officials, advocates and congressional leaders were blindsided when word emerged that Trump was considering doing precisely what he'd forcefully claimed he couldn't do - act unilaterally to quell a growing humanitarian and political crisis. A senior Justice Department official told The Associated Press that hasn't changed.

Under a court settlement, the federal government can not hold the children for more than 20 days. Any attempt by the government to modify the agreement would likely face opposition from the lawyers who negotiated it, according to representatives of immigrant rights organizations.

The order provides, however, that DHS may separate families when "there is a concern that detention of a child with the child's alien parent would post a risk to the child's welfare". "We left so that my family could be safe".

What does the executive order say? Children don't belong in jail at all, even with their parents, under any set of circumstances.

Citing a source familiar with the drafting of the order, Reid reported the order does not override the 1993 Flores v. Reno Supreme Court case, which says that detained migrant children can not be held in government detention facilities for more than 20 days.

The order calls for the families to be detained together while their cases are considered.

It also directs other agencies, including the Pentagon, to take steps to find places to house family units.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., center, talks to reporters about families being separated at the border, as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Wednesday in Washington.

Trump earlier Wednesday said the then-looming action "ultimately will be matched by legislation" after House Speaker Paul Ryan announced the House will vote Thursday on a bill to end the practice.

Trump said lawmakers must still pass legislation to secure the border and to finally and fully allow family and minor detention and prompt removal.

MariRuth Petzing, managing attorney of the nonprofit Immigration Counseling Service's Hood River office, explained what generally happens to children who arrive alone at the border or are separated from their parents or adults with whom they are traveling.

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