President Trump promises 'something' on detained children

President Donald Trump says he will be signing an executive order later Wednesday that would end the process of separating children from families after they are detained crossing the border illegally.


“The Republicans want security and insist on security for our country. And we will have that,” Trump said during a meeting at the White House with lawmakers and officials. “At the same time, we have compassion and want to keep families together. It’s very important. I’ll be signing something in a little while that’s going to do that.”

He added that he hopes his action will be “matched by legislation.”

The action comes after Trump and his team faced harsh criticism from lawmakers, activists, religious leaders and former first ladies over the separation of children from their parents in custody, which was panned almost universally as cruel and damaging to the kids’ well-being.

The decision was a remarkable shift from a president who is typically reluctant to bow to outside pressure. He often doubles down on his existing stance when confronted with criticism.

With cable news flashing images of migrant children held in cages and lawmakers’ offices facing a flood of angry phone calls, the president was under increased pressure to come up with a speedy solution. White House aides came to the conclusion on Wednesday that Congress was unlikely to act quickly to resolve the crisis, even though they sent signals that Trump would be willing to sign a narrow, stand-alone fix without other immigration-related provisions.

The decision to end the separation policy via executive action appeared to have happened quickly, and some in the White House were left in the dark. Key members of the White House legislative affairs team, which had been working with Hill lawmakers in a bid to find a legislative fix, were left out of the loop and hadn't seen text of the executive action as of early Wednesday afternoon, according to two people familiar with the issue.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Justice Department officials went to the White House Wednesday morning to work with administration lawyers to draft the order. The action will direct the Department of Homeland Security to keep families together and will instruct the Department of Defense to help house the families because many of the detention centers are at capacity, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was slated to go to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to brief lawmakers on the administration’s plans.

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