Trump reverses migrant separation policy

President Donald Trump signs an executive order on immigration policy

President Trump has signed an executive order "about keeping families together while ensuring we have a powerful border". As many experts have noted, however, the order does not change Trump's mass deportation and "zero-tolerance" policy, though it does create a range of other problems.

A poll by Quinnipiac University, taken June 14-17, found that the public opposed separating parents from children by 27%-66%.

Since Democrats aren't going to support either bill, Republicans have a small margin for error, and they're confronting a problem they've always had: Their few remaining moderates are skittish about the harsher approach, while their conservatives don't want anything they think is "amnesty" for anyone, including dreamers. After word broke of Trump's likely retreat from the family separation policy, a group of House Republican leaders, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, hustled to the White House to figure out next moves. While the administration will continue prosecuting crimes of "improper entry", the administration will "maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources", according to the order's text.

It does not end the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy.

It's true that there was no codified law ordering the separation of immigrant children from their families, but the separations were an inevitable effect of the administration's zero-tolerance policy, issued by the Department of Justice, that called for the criminal prosecution of all border-crossing immigrants.

"We are keeping families together", Trump said from the Oval Office while flanked by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence.

It does not specifically address what will happen to families and children who have already been separated.

Under the new executive order, the United States will allow children to stay with their parents for the duration of the court proceedings, and additional facilities - including military bases - could be used to accommodate them because a court ruling prevents children from being housed in usual detention centers. Trump has claimed as recently as Tuesday that 80 percent of those released never showed up for their court dates and disappear into the country, but federal data suggest that most do show up, though a significant number are unaccounted for.

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Natalia Cornelio, director of criminal justice reform at the Texas Civil Rights Project, told MSNBC's Kasie Hunt today that families and children will still be incarcerated and also separated. "We don't like to see families separated".

The House legislation would also provide billions of dollars for Trump's dream of building a border wall, make steep cuts to legal immigration programs, and provide legal status to so-called Dreamers who came to the country illegally as children years ago.

Trump had tweeted earlier Wednesday, "It's the Democrats fault, they won't give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation. Bill O'Reilly said this is bad".

Though lawmakers appeared blindsided by Trump's reversal, many were relieved that he backed down.

Republicans in tough races were facing questions about family separation just months before the midterm elections. One official said it was the Justice Department that generated the legal strategy that is codified in the working executive order, and disputed the notion that Homeland Security was involved in drawing up the document.

"We showed that the goodness of the American people can prevail in dark times", said Cesar Vargas, co-director of the Dream Action Coalition.

At least seven bills have been introduced in Congress this week to deal with the issue. "When we have an announcement to make, we'll make it".

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