By Alisha Haridasani
President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday ending the practice of separating children from their parents while still detaining those who have illegally crossed the southern border.
"We're going to keep the families together," Trump said when he signed executive order. "At the same time we are keeping a very powerful border."
After widespread condemnation from elected officials, corporate leaders, former first ladies, and most recently, the Pope, President Trump directed Homeland Security to detain families together while they wait for their case to be processed.
Detaining families together, however, goes against a 1997 consent decree that prohibits the federal government from holding children for more than 20 days. In his executive order, Trump also directed the Attorney General Jeff Sessions to modify the decree in order to "detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings."
Trump's action was an extraordinary reversal for the president, who as recently as Tuesday night was defending his administration's "zero tolerance" police and blaming Congress for the crisis.
His about-face appears to have been driven by the bipartisan national outrage towards the new policy, which was implemented by Sessions in April and which has so far separated more than 2,000 children from their parents.
“I think he probably expected he would have the support of Republicans to try to corner the Democrats and isolate them on this,” said Jack Crowe, news writer at the National Review.
“But what’s happened is actually a lot of his own party have turned against him on this,” he said. “He doesn’t have a lot of allies left in this.”
Trump's executive order also calls on Congress to draw up a broader package that would address immigration policy and fund his border wall.
In the days leading up to the executive order, the administration also faced condemnation from the private sector, as major companies weighed in on the issue and urged policy changes.
“It is a moral imperative to stop separating families,” said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who rarely speaks out on political issues.
Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook chiefs have all also vehemently condemned Trump while Uber is reportedly exploring how its legal team can help the migrant families.
For the full interview, click here.