Even as US president Donald Trump reversed his immigration policy of separating migrant children from their parents and signed an executive order to that effect on Wednesday, politicians, activists and immigration lawyers remained unconvinced and maintained that it did not "fix the crisis".
Buckling under heavy pressure from his fellow Republicans, Democrats and the international community, Trump's spectacular about-face came after more than 2,300 children were stripped from their parents and adult relatives after illegally crossing the border since 5 May and placed in tent camps and other facilities, with no way to contact their relatives.
"What we have done today is we are keeping families together," Trump said as he signed the executive order. "I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated."
Trump said that even with the change, border enforcement will be "equally tough, if not tougher."
For weeks, Trump had insisted he was bound by the law to split the children from their parents and that only Congress could resolve the problem — before he radically shifted gears.
Following the order, the Democratic House Committee on Homeland Security, condemned the executive order and said that amid the fanfare of his televised signing ceremony, there was no mention of the administration planned to reunite the separated children with their parents.
"Trump is now trying to convince the American people that mandating indefinite detention of families solves the family separation crisis he created," Democrats said in a statement. "We are troubled that amid all the fanfare of Donald Trump's televised signing ceremony there was not a single mention of how the more than 2,000 children will be reunited with their families," it added.
Here is a look at how US politicians and activists reacted to Trump's recent decision:
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders said that Trump was forced to reverse his policy after people spoke up against it. However, he suggested the executive order issued "goes nowhere near as far as it should go." Sanders also said that Trump’s executive order merely "replaces one inhumane act with another". "In response to the overwhelming public outrage at his policy of tearing children away from their parents at the border, this administration thinks the appropriate response is to indefinitely detain families," he said in another tweet.
Because the American people spoke up, Trump has changed his policy of tearing children away from their parents and locking them up in detention cages. But the executive order that he issued today goes nowhere near as far as it should go. pic.twitter.com/cUuxBRkLoJ
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 21, 2018
California senator Kamala Harris tweeted that the executive order did not deal with reuniting the 2,300 separated children with their parents or relatives and said that detaining children indefinitely was inhumane.
This Executive Order doesn’t fix the crisis. Indefinitely detaining children with their families in camps is inhumane and will not make us safe. — Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) June 20, 2018
This Executive Order in no way deals with reuniting the *two thousand three hundred* children who have been torn away from their parents and remain separated. When will they see their parents again? They must be reunited immediately.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) June 20, 2018
US senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz termed the order 'vague' and said the government was not doing anything to unite separated children with their parents.
The President signed a vague executive order today but this much is clear: CHILDREN ARE STILL SEPARATED FROM THEIR PARENTS and the government doesn’t appear to be doing the first thing to reunite them. — Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) June 21, 2018
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for backing Trump's claim that the White House was not "barbarically ripping children away from mothers".
So...@SecNielsen first backed Trump's claim that there was no policy of barbarically ripping children away from mothers. "Period."
Today's #ExecutiveOrder shows this Republican Administration knowingly and deliberately lied to us.
She must resign NOW!
— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) June 21, 2018
Lindsey Graham US senator Lindsey Graham said he was very pleased with the order but said that only the Congress can provide a permanent solution regarding the legal dilemma created by the 1997 Flores settlement agreement.
Very pleased President @realDonaldTrump will issue an Executive Order dealing with the separation of children and parents detained at our southern border. Only Congress can provide a permanent solution regarding the legal dilemma created by the 1997 Flores settlement agreement. — Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 20, 2018
Democratic Senator Adam Schiff said the "nightmare isn't over yet" until Trump's presidency is over.
First, Trump created a crisis by repealing DACA, and threatened to deport DREAMErs if he didn’t get his wall.
Next, he created a crisis by separating children from their parents, and held them hostage.
This nightmare isn’t over. And it won’t be over until his presidency is.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 21, 2018
Karine Jean-Pierre Political campaign organiser and activist Karin Jean-Pierre said the executive order was "worthless".
Shocking - the #executiveorder that Donald Trump signed this afternoon is WORTHLESS According to HHS children (+2400) who have already been separated from their parents won’t be reunited while their parents. — Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) June 21, 2018
Jevin D Hodge
Vice-chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, Hodge claimed the order did not end the administration's "zero tolerance" policy but "jailed families seeking asylum from violent situations indefinitely".
(1/3) 🚨WE ARE IN A STATE OF EMERGENCY‼️
Trump's #ExecutiveOrder does NOT:
❌Mention reunification of separated children with their parents
❌End the administration's "zero tolerance" policy
🚫Jail families seeking asylum from violent situations indefinitely
— Jevin D. Hodge (@JevinforAZ) June 20, 2018
Law professor Anil Kalhan said that Trump's executive order purported, but did not commit, to ending one specific means by which "asylum-seekers and their kids are being held as political hostages".
Don't be deceived by Trump's executive order. It purports (but doesn't commit) to ending one specific means by which asylum-seekers and their kids are being held as political hostages—but seeks to illegally institute others on a large scale. 1/ pic.twitter.com/nJ6TTWMRvW — Anil Kalhan (@kalhan) June 20, 2018
Colorado representative and Member of Congress Diane DeGette tremendous pressure on Trump led to the reversal of the family separation policy.
Americans have placed tremendous pressure on @POTUS to end #FamilySeparation; our advocacy is working. We must keep it up to ensure follow-through and reunite these families, and move on to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. #FamiliesBelongTogther https://t.co/YLnVjqcZCC
— Rep. Diana DeGette (@RepDianaDeGette) June 20, 2018
With inputs from AFP
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Updated Date: Jun 21, 2018 12:28:54 IST