President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he will be signing an executive order to halt his administration’s policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“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,” Trump said during a meeting with members of Congress at the White House. “So I’m going to be signing an executive order in a little while before I go to Minnesota. But at the same time I think you have to understand we are keeping families together, but we have to keep our borders strong.”

The president still called on Congress to eventually come up with a more comprehensive plan that would tackle both family separations and security concerns.


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Family separation has become a major issue due to Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions’ “zero-tolerance” policy. The policy immediately puts anyone caught crossing the border illegally up for criminal prosecution, meaning parents and children are separated during the legal process. Children in the detention facilities set up have been seen living in caged areas, weeping and calling out for their parents. Within six weeks of the policy being enacted, more than 2,000 children were separated from their parents and placed in facilities.

The decision to sign the order is a large shift from the president’s previous claims that only Congress can put a stop to family separations and that Democrats were the cause of them in the first place. Vice President Mike Pence spoke publicly on the matter for the first time at the meeting.

“We don’t want families to be separated,” Pence said. “We don’t want children taken away from parents, but right now under the law, as we sit with these lawmakers, we only have two choices before us: number one, don’t prosecute people who come into our country illegally. Or, prosecute them and then under court cases and the law, they have to be separated from their children.”

Trump also announced at the meeting that he will be cancelling Thursday’s congressional picnic, saying it “didn’t feel right” to hold the gathering while lawmakers were working on this issue.    

The decision to sign the executive action came following a story that revealed babies and toddlers are being held in “tender age” facilities. The report brought MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to tears while attempting to share it on-air.  


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