US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order promising to "keep families together" amid fury over separations of undocumented child migrants from adults. With the simple flick of the pen, a simple flick of the pen, the president can end this policy.
It's also unclear what will happen to the children already separated.
"When an alien enters or attempts to enter the country anywhere else, that alien has committed at least the crime of improper entry and is subject to a fine or imprisonment", the order said, adding that the administration's new policy will be to "maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources".
Speaker Paul Ryan is pushing ahead with votes on rival House GOP immigration bills, but neither appears to have enough support for passage, prompting President Donald Trump to take executive action Wednesday to stem the crisis of family separations at the border.
Video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children had sparked anger as the images were broadcast worldwide.
"We want security for our country", the president said Wednesday.
But the implementation of "zero tolerance" by the Trump administration has led to more prosecutions and, thus, more separations. "I think everybody believes that". "It didn't feel exactly right to me". And it was the fault of Congress rather than Trump.
Top conservatives, including key Trump allies, have introduced bills to keep the migrant families together. Sen.
The policy, introduced in May by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, caused widespread outrage in the USA this week after pictures of children being separated from their parents and placed in detention were splashed across the media.
Wildes said the use of the terms "anchor babies" and "chain migration" is an attempt "to try to change the narrative" and undermine the "beautiful notion of family reunification" - the idea that immigrants arrive, work hard to help bring their family members over and help "build up our economy and pay it forward to the next generation". 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.
Critics have countered that Mr Trump unilaterally created the situation that produced the heart-rending accounts of children separated from their parents, and he could unilaterally fix it.
The former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Sandweg, expects that hundreds of children will never reunite with their parents as a result of current policy. But cases where there is a concern that parents "would pose a risk to the child's welfare" have been exempted from the executive order. "Children do not belong in jail". So if the Flores settlement is successfully amended, the families caught crossing the border illegally will be detained together.
Meanwhile, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein - the UN's top human rights official - essentially accused the U.S. of committing child abuse. Public outcry is mounting over the family separations, but so far, there's no clear roadmap for Thursday voting on the emotional issue dividing Republicans. "But Congress still needs to act because what they're doing, while very humane, violates something called the "Flores Settlement", which means someone's going to take this to court and they're going to get it thrown out", he said.
Trump campaigned on stopping illegal immigration and has fiercely defended his administration's actions.