US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order [text] effectively ending his controversial family separation policy resulting from the administration’s “zero tolerance” approach to illegal immigration.
The order does not halt the prosecution of those caught crossing the border illegally, but it will allow families to remain together while being held in detention centers run by the Department of Homeland Security [official website]. Somewhat retreating from previous claims that the administration was merely following the law on the books and the policy could only be ended through legislative action, the order reads:
It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources. It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.
Despite the order, more than 2,300 children have already been separated from their parents and will not be immediately reunited with their family as the adults continue thorough immigration legal proceedings.
The halt of this policy comes after numerous domestic and international [JURIST reports] calls to end the practice. Earlier this month a federal judge declared [JURIST report] that the policy may violate due process. In February, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] to end the practice.