The White House’s hastily crafted executive order to end child separations led to confusion and fights within the federal government, and second-guessing from the president who had demanded the order in the first place, reports the Washington Post. Senior officials are crafting a plan for reuniting immigrant children with their parents or guardians, though it remained unclear how long that work will take. Officials are hashing out exactly how to reunite the more than 2,500 migrant children who have been separated from their parents since the practice went into effect in early May. About 500 children have already been reunited with a parent or guardian.
President Trump’s new executive order relieved political pressure on him but intensified friction between the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Trump had felt confident that Republicans in Congress would push through immigration legislation ending the family separation practice, so he might as well get ahead of it. A vote was eventually postponed until next week, and it does not appear to have enough votes to pass. Given a few hours to produce a complex legal document, lawyers crafted one that met the moment’s political demands but only added to confusion within the agencies tasked with implementing it. At Customs and Border Protection (CBP), officials viewed Trump’s order as instructing them to no longer refer to the Justice Department for prosecution the cases of adults illegally entering the U.S. with children. Within the Justice Department, officials believed the executive order paved the way for parents to be held with their children for as long as necessary to resolve their cases. In the meantime, federal agencies wrestle with how to deal with families that have been detained or are likely to be detained soon. A significant challenge for Homeland Security is that its detention facilities are already near maximum capacity.