Donald Trump to sign executive order to keep immigrant families together

Donald Trump to sign executive order to keep immigrant families together

Donald Trump speaks on immigration issues with members of US Congress. Image: Getty

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Donald Trump will sign an order to keep migrant families together at the border.

It follows a major backlash to his hardline immigration policy, which saw the children of Mexican immigrants detained while crossing into the US illegally, sent to detention centres while their parents were in jail.

In a cabinet meeting - at which Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security Department Secretary who's been overseeing the separation policy, was absent - he announced his turnaround.

Read more: Did the Obama administration separate immigrant families?

The Department of Homeland Security said 1,995 children had been separated from their families between April 19 and the end of May, and 252,000 people in total were stopped at the border between October 2017 and May 2018.

Trump announced from his White House cabinet room that he would be signing an executive order to ensure families were kept together.

“We’re looking to keep families together. Very important,” he said.

“We’re going to be signing an executive order. We are also going to count on Congress, obviously, but we are signing an executive order in a little while.”

He spoke about the dilemma he faced by being “weak” or “strong” on immigration.

“If you’re weak...if you’re really, really pathetically weak, the country’s going to be overrun with millions of people. And if you’re strong, then you don’t have any heart. That’s a tough dilemma,” he said.

Read more: Melania Trump 'hates to see' families separated

He added that he would still have a “tough” stance on immigration.

“We’re going to keep families together but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don’t stand for and that we don’t want."

Protesters against the separation policy hold up placards

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow broke down in tears on TV earlier this week while reading a report about how babies and toddlers were being sent to ‘tender age’ detention centres.

The four former first ladies who are still living - Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama - have all condemned Trump’s policy.

Hillary Clinton called it a “moral and humanitarian crisis”, and Michelle Obama shared an op-ed by Laura Bush, who said it “breaks my heart”.

Theresa May also condemed the policy, saying: “The pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing. This is wrong, this is not something that we agree with.”

Trump’s state visit to the UK is still planned for July 13. Protest marches are planned for the day.