President Donald Trump appears to give in to widespread criticism over his administration’s policy of separating thousands of migrant children from their families.
Trump said Wednesday he will sign an executive order ending the controversial policy. “We are going to sign an executive order in a little while to keep families together, but we have to maintain toughness,” he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“These images affect everybody.”
An order was drafted earlier in the day by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that would keep families together when detained at the border for entering the country illegally. That’s despite Nielsen previously saying there was no “policy of separating families at the border.”
We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) June 17, 2018
In fact, members of the Trump administration have repeatedly denied instituting the new policy. That’s in contrast to other administration officials who have admitted creating the policy and argued it would help deter future illegal immigration.
That tension was highlighted during a visit by Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to a Homestead facility housing migrant children. Nelson said at least 94 children at that facility had been separated from their parents. He added today that 174 children in total are being housed in Florida facilities after being split from their parents.
Yesterday’s visit by Nelson and Wasserman Schultz prompted Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates to plan a joint march in Homestead to protest the practice.
President Trump also repeatedly refused responsibility for the policy, instead choosing to blame Democrats. Now, it appears Trump is ready to do what many argued he could do all along: end the policy unilaterally.
South Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen recognized this in a scathing statement following Trump’s announcement of the new EO. According to Scott Wong, a writer at the Hill, Ros-Lehtinen called Trump an “arsonist” who is now playing “fireman” by approving this new change.
“Anything to boost his fragile ego,” she added.