Following months of controversy over the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward illegal aliens apprehended at the border — sometimes resulting in children of illegal aliens being separated from their parents — President Trump signed an executive order on June 20 designed to keep together immigrant families who have been detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Speaking at the Oval Office, the president said:
We’re signing an executive order I consider to be a very important executive order. It’s about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border. And border security will be equal, if not greater than previously.
So we’re going to have strong — very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together. I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated. It’s a problem that’s gone on for many years, as you know, through many administrations.
After a reporter asked Trump why he waited so long to sign the order, the president said that the problem of how to handle the children of illegal aliens had been going on for 60 years but that nobody had the political courage to take care of it. He invited the press to “look at some of those horrible scenes from a few years ago…. They were just terrible. And that was during the Obama administration. Other administrations have had the same thing.”
Excerpts from the executive order include:
It is the policy of this Administration to rigorously enforce our immigration laws…. 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….
The Secretary of Homeland Security … shall … maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members.