UPDATED with Trump’s announcement, signing and text of executive order: President Donald Trump has signed an executive order ending his policy of snatching children from immigrant parents crossing the southern border; nuking his previous position that only Congress could fix his baby separation/detention. [Read the full text below.]
“You’re going to have a lot of happy people,” Trump said as he put his buzzsaw signature to the executive order.
Asked if he discovered he could end his policy with an executive order after all, owing to pressure from his daughter Ivanka, Trump responded, “Ivanka feels very strongly about it. My wife feels very strongly about it. I feel very strongly about it. Anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated; at the same time we don’t want to see people come into the country illegally.”
Speaking of Ivanka, the White House adviser who said she would advocate for women and children, was mum on her dad’s policy to separate children from their parents at the border, until her dad signed an executive order ending his policy – a signing she showed up for.
Then she tweeted to congratulate Dad for ending his own policy with an executive order he previously said he could not do:
Hovering to Trump’s left as he signed the executive order, Veep Mike Pence told reporters witnessing the signing, “I think what the president has made clear is we believe it’s a false choice whether we are a country of law and order or a country with a border,” which made no sense.
Equally Mad Hatter’s Tea Party-ish, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who first denied the policy existed, then defended it vigorously at a White House press briefing, hovered to Trump’s right ,as he signed the clown-sized executive order, and thanked Trump for his leadership.
The signing was staged a couple hours after Trump held one of those White House gathering of GOP lawmakers and cabinet of which he is so fond, to announce he was going to sign it.
“Republicans insist on security for our country. And we will have that. At the same time we have compassion and we want to keep families together. It’s very important,” Trump said at that earlier clambake.
“I’ll be signing something in a little while that’s going to do that.”
“The people in this room want to do that, and are working on various pieces of legislation to get it done. But I’ll be doing something that’s somewhat preemptive, but ultimately will be matched by legislation, I’m sure.”
In a rare glimpse at his anger over his retreat, Trump explained the “dilemma”:
“If you’re weak, which some people like you to be – 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’.”
“Perhaps I’d rather be strong. But that’s a tough dilemma.”
Trump told the cameras, “We’re having a lot of problem with Democrats. They don’t want to vote for anything. They don’t care about lack of security; they would like to have open borders.”
Then Trump announced he is canceling tomorrow’s Congressional picnic, because the optics would be mind-blowingly bad for them to be frolicking on the White House lawn as all those photos, and that audio, of toddlers weeping for their parents were circulating – or, as Trump put it, “you know it doesn’t feel right to have a picnic for Congress when working on doing something important.”
Then POTUS took viewers on a tour of the big table and Republicans in the seats said glowing things about him.
FNC’s chief White House correspondent John Roberts broke the news of this morning’s Trump about-face, reporting POTUS was “considering some sort of executive action” allowing children to stay with detained parents through immigration adjudication process,” surprising House Republicans who had just held a presser to push an immigration bill they said they would put to vote tomorrow.
Earlier today – not that it would necessarily matter to Trump – his child-snatching “zero tolerance” border policy was condemned by Pope Francis. It also got blasted by the Canadian and Brit PMs, though it’s unlikely that would have moved him either. Republicans worry those pictures and audio will clobber them in the coming midterm elections.
Previous night, Trump met with House Republicans and acknowledged the photos of snatched babies at the border and audio of weeping babies in cages was not a good look “politically” and the problem was theirs to fix, legislatively.
Just a couple hours before Trump staged his big about face, House Speaker Paul Ryan hopped to it, holding a presser at which he dangled the prospect of ending Trump’s baby-abuse immigration strategy, in exchange for signing a bill that would:
-Require DHS to keep families in custody during criminal proceedings
-Provide a path to citizenship for some DACA recipients
-End diversity visa lottery
-Cut family-based visas
-Designate $25B for border security including the wall Trump vowed Mexico would pay for
-Tag $7B to expand DHS family holding centers.
New Mexico’s Dem Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned CNN viewers the bill does not end Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy which guarantees continued separation of families, saying “I will not vote for bill that does not end family separations,” and adding, “Just because Speaker Ryan says that it does, does not mean that it does.”
She also noted the Cato Institute reports 82% of Dreamers will NOT benefit from any of the so called protections in the bill.
Here is the full text of Trump’s executive order, provided by the White House Press Office:
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AFFORDING CONGRESS AN OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS FAMILY SEPARATION
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of this Administration to rigorously enforce our immigration laws. Under our laws, the only legal way for an alien to enter this country is at a designated port of entry at an appropriate time. When an alien enters or attempts to enter the country anywhere else, that alien has committed at least the crime of improper entry and is subject to a fine or imprisonment under section 1325(a) of title 8, United States Code. This Administration will initiate proceedings to enforce this and other criminal provisions of the INA until and unless Congress directs otherwise. 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. It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.
Sec. 2. Definitions. For purposes of this order, the following definitions apply:
(a) “Alien family” means
(i) any person not a citizen or national of the United States who has not been admitted into, or is not authorized to enter or remain in, the United States, who entered this country with an alien child or alien children at or between designated ports of entry and who was detained; and
(ii) that person’s alien child or alien children.
(b) “Alien child” means any person not a citizen or national of the United States who
(i) has not been admitted into, or is not authorized to enter or remain in, the United States;
(ii) is under the age of 18; and
(iii) has a legal parent-child relationship to an alien who entered the United States with the alien child at or between designated ports of entry and who was detained.
Sec. 3. Temporary Detention Policy for Families Entering this Country Illegally. (a) The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary), shall, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry or immigration proceedings involving their members.
(b) The Secretary shall not, however, detain an alien family together when there is a concern that detention of an alien child with the child’s alien parent would pose a risk to the child’s welfare.
(c) The Secretary of Defense shall take all legally available measures to provide to the Secretary, upon request, any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families, and shall construct such facilities if necessary and consistent with law. The Secretary, to the extent permitted by law, shall be responsible for reimbursement for the use of these facilities.
(d) Heads of executive departments and agencies shall, to the extent consistent with law, make available to the Secretary, for the housing and care of alien families pending court proceedings for improper entry, any facilities that are appropriate for such purposes. The Secretary, to the extent permitted by law, shall be responsible for reimbursement for the use of these facilities.
(e) The Attorney General shall promptly file a request with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to modify the Settlement Agreement in Flores v. Sessions, CV 85-4544 (“Flores settlement”), in a manner that would permit the Secretary, under present resource constraints, to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings.
Sec. 4. Prioritization of Immigration Proceedings Involving Alien Families. The Attorney General shall, to the extent practicable, prioritize the adjudication of cases involving detained families.
Sec. 5. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
June 20, 2018.