President Donald Trump today signed an executive order aimed at ending the separation of immigrant families at the border, reversing a controversial practice that generated a wave of protests in the country and criticism from numerous Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
The executive order will allow children who cross the southern border with their undocumented parents to stay with them in immigration detention centers, except in cases where there is concern that such a situation poses a risk to the child's welfare.
Prior to signing the executive order, the President said that the measure is to "keep families together," but also to reinforce border security and reiterated that he will continue to maintain "zero tolerance" towards those who enter the country illegally.
According to figures provided by government authorities, since May 2018, more than 2,300 children were separated from their parents, held in detention centers awaiting criminal prosecution.
The order does not clarify how children who have already been separated from their parents will be reunified.
The president ordered Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to maintain custody of detained families during criminal prosecutions and immigration proceedings and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to find or build facilities to house detained families. It also directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prioritize the adjudication of cases involving detained families.
You can read the executive order by clicking here. Below is a translation of the executive order:
Providing Congress with an Opportunity to Address Family Separation
Issued on: June 20, 2018
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of this Administration to strictly enforce our immigration laws. Under our laws, the only legal way for an alien to enter this country is at a designated port of entry at the appropriate time. When an alien enters or attempts to enter the country elsewhere, that alien has committed at least the offense of improper entry and is subject to a fine or imprisonment pursuant to section 1325(a) of title 8, United States Code. This Administration will initiate proceedings to enforce this and other criminal provisions of the INA until Congress directs otherwise. It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including detaining alien families together when appropriate and in accordance with the law and available resources. It is unfortunate that Congressional inaction and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families in order to effectively enforce the law.
Second. Definitions. For the purposes of this order, the following definitions apply:
(a) "Foreign family" means
(i) any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States who has not been admitted or is not authorized to enter or remain in the United States, who entered this country with a foreign child or foreign children at or between the designated member ports of entry and who was apprehended; and
(ii) the foreign child or foreign children of that person.
(b) "Alien child" means any person who is not a citizen or national of the United States who
(i) has not been admitted or is not authorized to enter or remain in the United States;
(ii) is under 18 years of age; and
(iii) has a legal parent-child relationship with an alien who entered the United States with the alien child at or between designated ports of entry and was detained.
Second. Temporary Detention Policy for Families Entering this Country Illegally. (a) The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary), to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, shall maintain custody of alien families during the processing of any illegal entry or immigration proceedings involving their family members.
(b) However, the Secretary shall not detain a foreign family when there is a concern that the detention of a foreign child with the child's foreign parent poses a risk to the child's welfare.
(c) The Secretary of Defense shall take all legally available measures to provide to the Secretary, upon request, existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families, and shall construct them if necessary and in accordance with law. The Secretary, to the extent permitted by law, shall be responsible for reimbursement for the use of such facilities.
(d) The heads of executive departments and agencies shall, to the extent consistent with law, make available to the Secretary, for the housing and care of alien families pending judicial proceedings for wrongful entry, such facilities as may be appropriate for such purposes. The Secretary, to the extent permitted by law, shall be responsible for reimbursement for the use of such facilities.
(e) The Attorney General should promptly file an application with the United States District Court for the Central District of California to modify the Settlement Agreement in Flores v. Sessions, CV 85-4544 ("Flores Settlement"), so as to permit the Secretary, consistent with current resource constraints, to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings.
Second. Prioritization of immigration proceedings involving alien families. The Attorney General should, to the extent possible, prioritize the adjudication of cases involving detained families.
Second. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget related to budgetary, administrative or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, employees, or agents, or any other person. or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 20, 2018.