Trump’s Executive Order Doesn’t Guarantee Separated Families Will Be Reunited

June 21, 2018, 5:30 PM UTC

After weeks of growing pressure from all sides of the American public, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to allow immigrant families found crossing the border illegally to remain together in detention. Previously, children had been detained separately when their parents were arrested, causing mental health and safety concerns.

While Trump’s order will now keep any families detained at the border united, it doesn’t address the more than 2,000 children already separated from their parents. Top Democratic lawmakers are speaking out, demanding the White House make an effort to reunite the families.

“It seems that the administration lacks a plan, intention, and a sense of urgency to begin reuniting these children — many of whom have suffered serious emotional anguish — with their parents,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote in a letter to President Trump.

“The administration has the authority and the resources to immediately begin the process of family reunification,” they continued. “Any delay in doing so is simply unacceptable. We request that the administration present its plan to Congress and the country as soon as possible, and immediately begin steps to implement it.”

The letter also demands an end to the “zero-tolerance” policy that began the process of separating families at the border and requests alternatives to detention. The Supreme Court decided in 1993 that migrant children cannot be held in detention for a duration longer than 20 days, but the “zero-tolerance” policy requires the imprisonment of the parents. The White House has not addressed how it will handle family detentions after this period of time.

Schumer commented on Trump’s executive order on his Twitter, demanding to know what the president plans to do to help families before the order goes into legal effect.

Democrats and Republicans are at odds as to the best way to aid the families separated at the border. Schumer has been adamant that Trump is the best pathway to progress, as any legislation Congress tries to pass gets “bogged down” with “unacceptable additions.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), on the other hand, feels Congress should take action, saying, “We need to fix the problem and it requires a legislative solution.”