United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end the process of separating children from families that have crossed into the country illegally.
The executive order marks a major change for the president and his administration. He and other officials had repeatedly said they had no choice but to separate families stopped at the border because of the law and a court decision.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the president and others had said that the only way to end the practice was for Congress to pass new legislation.
However, Democrats and some Republicans have said Trump could end the policy himself. Trump did just that.
The executive order says the government will prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally. It also calls for providing or building structures that can hold parents and children together while their cases are considered in courts.
The order also directs the United States attorney general to seek a change to a court ruling known as the Flores settlement. The ruling bars the government from keeping children in detention for more than 20 days.
Zero tolerance policy
Wednesday’s executive order did not end the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. During the signing, Trump said, “the border is just as tough, but we want to keep families together.”
Before Wednesday, the zero-tolerance policy required adults to be sent to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, while children were sent to centers run by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Between May 5 and June 9, more than 2,300 children were separated from their families at the United States’ border with Mexico. The families are mostly from Central American countries. They crossed through Mexico to reach the U.S. border.
News reports in recent days in the U.S. have been filled with emotional images of young children at the border crying for their parents. The images have caused anger toward the practice and pressure on the Trump administration to change its policy.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
The Associated Press reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English, with additional materials. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
prosecute - v. to hold a trial against a person who is accused of a crime to see if that person is guilty
tolerance - n. willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own
tough - adj. strong and not easily broken or damaged
custody - n. the state of being kept in a prison or jail