We want to keep families together, says Trump amid row over migrant children
The administration recently put into place a ‘zero tolerance’ policy in which all unlawful border crossings are referred for prosecution.
US President Donald Trump has said he will be signing something “in a little while” to address the spike in the number of migrant children being separated from their families at the border.
Mr Trump said during a White House meeting with members of Congress: “We want to keep families together.”
The comments come amid news that homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has been working on executive action that would end the separation process.
Mr Trump added: “We want to solve this immigration problem.”
The effort would mark a dramatic departure for an administration that has been insisting, wrongly, that it has no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border because of the law and a court decision.
Ms Nielsen, the president and other officials have repeatedly said the only way to end the practice is for Congress to pass new legislation, though both Democrats and some Republicans have said the president could reverse it with a simple phone call.
It’s the Democrats fault, they won’t give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation. They want open borders, which breeds horrible crime. Republicans want security. But I am working on something - it never ends!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2018
The news in recent days has been dominated by images of children held in cages at border facilities, as well as audio recordings of young children crying for their parents.
Mr Trump had tweeted earlier that he was “working on something”.
“It’s the Democrats fault, they won’t give us the votes needed to pass good immigration legislation. They want open borders, which breeds horrible crime. Republicans want security. But I am working on something – it never ends!” he wrote.
The administration recently put into place a “zero tolerance” policy in which all unlawful border crossings are referred for prosecution – a process that moves adults to the custody of the US Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Under the Obama administration, such families were usually referred for civil deportation proceedings, not requiring separation.
The policy had led to a spike in family separations in recent weeks, with more than 2,300 minors separated from their families at the border from May 5 through until June 9, according to the Department of Homeland Security.