WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order ending his administration's policy of separating children from parents at the U.S.-Mexico border amid global criticism of the practice.
Update 10:30 p.m. EDT June 20: Senate Democrats took a stand on the floor of the U.S. Senate against President Donald Trump's immigration plan just hours after the president signed an executive order revoking his policy of separating migrant children from their parents during illegal border crossings.
Democrats, who spoke from the Senate floor for two hours, warned that the executive order will worsen the crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border, The Hill reported.
"If you can imagine it what this executive order does is raise the possibility of children being in prison for very, very long periods of time. ... Does anybody really believe that we should be imprisoning for an indefinite period of time little children," Sanders said.
Update 6:45 p.m. EDT June 20: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement in response to President Donald Trump's executive order overturning his administration's own policy of separating migrant families at the border.
“I am glad the president took this step today,” McConnell tweeted.
“When families with children breach our border, we should keep those families together whenever possible while our legal system fairly and promptly evaluates their status,” McConnell said.
Update 6:30 p.m. EDT June 20: Some Republican senators have expressed relief that President Donald Trump rescinded the policy separating migrant families at the border.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who introduced legislation to address the family separation issue at the border, said Trump’s executive order was a good move, but that Congress needs to act.
“I’m pleased the administration has agreed to keep families apprehended at the border together. We can have strong border security without separating parents from their children,” he said on Twitter.
Update 6 p.m. EDT June 20: Democratic senators are weighing in on President Donald Trump's decision to end the practice of separating children from their families during illegal border crossings.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said Trump is actually "doubling down" on his zero tolerance policy with his signing of the executive order.
"His new executive order criminalizes asylum-seekers and seeks to indefinitely detain their children," Durbin said in a tweet.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) also tweeted that Trump's executive order does not end the administration's "zero tolerance" policy.
" In fact, the President now wants to detain parents and children together indefinitely, and contemplates DoD building internment camps to house them. This is no solution to a problem Trump created," Markey said.
Update 4 p.m. EDT June 20: White House officials on Wednesday afternoon released the full text of the executive order signed by the president.
In it, Trump directed officials to detain migrant families together. Officials have come under fire in recent months after reports surfaced that migrant children were being taken from their parents at the border.
The order did not address what will happen to children and parents who are currently separated and in government custody.
Update 3:20 p.m. EDT June 20: Trump signed the order, which will keep families together but continue the administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, on Wednesday afternoon.
"We're keeping families together and this will solve that problem," Trump said. "At the same time we are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a 'zero tolerance,' we have zero tolerance for people who enter our country illegally."
Original report: Trump told reporters Wednesday that he will "be signing something in a little while" to address family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"We want to keep families together, it's very important," Trump said. "I'll be doing something that's somewhat preemptive and ultimately will be matched by legislation I'm sure."
It was not immediately clear what the president planned to sign. Trump has repeatedly called on Congress to change laws that he says mandates the family separations. There is no law that requires children be separated from parents at the border.
He blamed Democrats for the continued separations in a Wednesday morning tweet, but he added that he was "working on something."
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was drafting an executive action for Trump that would allow the Department of Homeland Security to keep migrant families together at the border.
Nielsen does not believe Congress will act to resolve the issue of migrant family separations, the AP reported, citing two unidentified sources familiar with the matter. She's working with officials from other agencies, including the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, to draft the executive action.
The Trump administration in April directed prosecutors to pursue cases against all people suspected of crossing the border illegally as part of a "zero tolerance" immigration enforcement policy. Parents have been separated from their children as they face prosecution.
Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The executive action Nielson is drafting "wouldn't end the zero tolerance policy, but would aim to keep families together and ask the Department of Defense to help house the detained families," according to the AP.
Cox Media Group