Trump orders halt to separating migrant children from their families

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order to keep families together at the border but says that the 'zero-tolerance' prosecution policy will continue during an event in the Oval Office of the White House

Pictures and accounts of the separations sparked outrage and a rebellion among Republicans in Trump's own party, as well as global accusation that the USA was committing human rights violations.

By BBC Online US President Donald Trump has bowed to public pressure and signed an executive order promising to "keep families together" in migrant detentions.

Trump's order, drafted by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, directs her department to keep families together after they are detained for illegal border-crossing.

Pelosi said using terrified small children as "leverage" to push the President's anti-immigrant agenda represents an "unspeakably appalling moral low-point for our nation".

Now, with the number of families detained rising during Trump's current immigration crackdown, questions were immediately raised about whether children will be released into foster or other care at the end of 20 days if their parents' immigration proceedings have not wrapped up.

The administration's move comes after withering criticism for its heavy-handed and cold-hearted response to an immigration crisis following the implementation of its zero-tolerance policy that has resulted in children being forcibly separated from Central and South American parents who illegally cross the border.

But the sweeping House GOP immigration overhaul looked uncertain at best as lawmakers struggled to move past an issue that has become politically fraught amid the dire images and audio of families being separated at the border.

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He tried to continue playing but a few moments later chose to leave, kicking a ball away with his left foot before limping away. Brazil and Switzerland are two points behind group leader Serbia, which defeated Costa Rica 1-0 in its opener.

Videos of youngsters in cages and an audiotape of wailing children have sparked anger in the United States from groups ranging from clergy to influential business leaders, as well as condemnation from overseas.

"Some of the members want to make sure the President is very visible in his support for both bills this week", said Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Rep. Joe Crowley, D-New York, joined other Democrats to rally against the policy of separating families at the border, which he said amounted to "psychological torture" of the children.

Trump's wife, Melania Trump, in private conversations with the president, urged him to do something to end the humanitarian crisis, a White House official said. "This afternoon would be good", Trump said.

"We're keeping families together but we have to keep our borders strong", Trump said.

"It's very important. I'll be signing something in a little while that's going to do that". "I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it", Trump said. Many come from states with large immigrant populations now at risk of deportation after Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

What's next for separated families? Even that decision was made last minute; moments before he called off the event, White House cooks were still busy grilling steaks in preparation for the event. A senior Justice Department official told The Associated Press that hasn't changed. But the president is contradicted by his own Justice Department, which describes the effort as stopgap and limited by a 21-year-old court settlement under which the federal government essentially agreed not to detain immigrant minors longer than 20 days. 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.

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One said privately on Thursday that they didn't want to risk toppling May at a time when her position is already perilous. Currently, the government is offering lawmakers a "take it or leave it" vote on the final deal.

Despite the president's order, Schey said he was concerned that several thousand children have already been separated from their parents "without the Trump administration having any effective procedures in place to reunite children with their parents, many of whom have already been deported".

Republican Senator Marco Rubio welcomed the executive order.

It added: "Jailing parents and children is not a solution - it's posturing meant to deflect from the real issue". "This is indefinite family detention which has already been tried and we already know it is awful".

Reyna Torres Mendivil, Mexico's consul general in San Antonio, told NPR's Audie Cornish that the process would be hampered by the USA separation process, which keeps parents in federal custody while moving children into facilities controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services.

In recent weeks, some 2,500 children who crossed the U.S. border illegally along with their parents have been separated from them.

The Republican-controlled US Congress is considering legislation to address the issue.

House Speaker Paul Ryan heard about it as he was taking wayward GOP lawmakers to a midday meeting with Trump at the White House to cajole them to vote for a sweeping immigration bill.

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