United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to “keep families together” amid the massive backlash over his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
“We’re signing an executive order. I consider it to be a very important executive order. It’s about keeping families together, while at the same time being sure we have a very powerful, very strong border,” CNN quoted Trump, as saying.
“The border is just as tough. But we do want to keep families together. We are keeping the family together,” he said in the Oval Office where he was joined by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence.
The order dictates other agencies, including the Pentagon, to take steps to find places to house family units.
The details of the executive order were worked out between the White House, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security; the report quoted an anonymous source, as saying.
This comes barely a day after when the US president defended his policy of separating children from their families who have been illegally crossing the southern US-Mexico border, saying, to prosecute parents for illicit entry, “you have to take the children away.”
“I don’t want children taken away from parents. When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally – which should happen – you have to take the children away,” CNN quoted Trump, as saying.
He delivered his remarks at the National Federation of Independent Businesses 75th Anniversary Celebration.
Nearly 2,000 children were taken away from their parents in a six-week period in April and May under the new Trump administration policy, according to several media reports.
Mexico’s foreign minister has called the US policy “cruel and inhuman”.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero-tolerance” policy on the border in April to prosecute immigrants for entering the country illegally.
By virtue of this policy, families who crossed together illegally would in some cases be separated, prompting a sweeping outcry from Democrats and immigration advocates.
Parents have since been arrested and placed in quick federal court proceedings near the border, while children are placed in shelters.