"No other government in the world is deliberately and systematically separating refugee children from their mothers and fathers as policy".
"I would do nearly anything to deter the people from Central America to getting on this very, very unsafe network that brings them up through Mexico into the United States", he said.
But the fate of families already separated by the policy is not clear. "We left so that my family could be safe". In a media call after the order was released, senior Justice Department official Gene Hamilton suggested that, absent new authority from a federal judge to detain children for longer than is now allowed, the practice of separating families may resume at the 20-day mark.
But the president said the "zero tolerance" policy, under which every adult caught crossing the border illegally will be detained and prosecuted, will continue.
But he and vice-president Mike Pence both stressed that their zero-tolerance policy would remain in place despite the new order, meaning that everyone who crosses the border without papers will still be referred for prosecution.
What court orders is he talking about?
The president and his top aides have insisted for days that they had no choice but to separate children from their parents due to unspecified US laws. That settlement, reached in 1997, required the government to limit the time it keeps unaccompanied minors in detention and to keep them in the least restrictive setting possible.
"It's a awful situation", Welch, 43, said of the distraught children.
In the hours leading up to the vote, members and aides were under no illusions the bill was on a fast track to law despite a last-minute lobbying blitz from the Trump administration that included visits from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as well as an impromptu bus trip to the White House, where Trump sought to personally convert members who were still undecided.
Even so, the executive order is not necessarily a panacea.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that the chamber will vote on immigration legislation on Thursday that would end family separations, but the chances of its passing are unclear. Tomorrow? "We'll find out".
On Wednesday, American Airlines, United Airlines and Frontier Airlines said they did not want their planes used by the U.S. government to transport the migrant children. Then he reversed course and said he would back the compromise - as well as a more conservative measure that went down to defeat earlier Thursday.
United Nations rights chief: Migrant family separations "unconscionable"
Sessions is the leading force of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on immigration . Wright said the group's goal in filing charges was to prompt such discussions.
"The thousands of children who have spent days, weeks, and months without the love and support of their parents deserve nothing less", Crowley added. Family members: Under US law, the children are meant to be released to stay with relatives or foster carers "without delay". "Reunification is always the ultimate goal".
Mayor Bill de Blasio said after touring the center Wednesday that among the children was a 9-year-old boy from Honduras who had been sent 2,000 miles to the facility on a bus after being stopped trying to enter the USA with his family.
He did not immediately provide details of the bill, but said it resolves the issue of so-called Dreamers, undocumented adult migrants who entered the USA as children, "in a very elegant way".
What's the reaction to the executive order?
It states that it is the policy of the administration "to maintain family unity", a new position from the administration's previous defense of separating families, when it said those affected had put themselves in that position by crossing the border illegally.
"First, there are more than 2,000 children already separated from their parents; the executive order does nothing to address that nightmare", said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at the Women's Refugee Commission.
Still, Ivanka Trump's conspicuous silence drew criticism as outrage mounted over the separations.
Trump said the executive order is about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that they have a very powerful and strong border.
Some on the right are equally dismayed.
Turner said he met with officials from Austin-based Southwest Key Programs, the contractor that operates some of the child shelters, to ask them to reconsider their plans.
"The question is, Do congressional Democrats want to actually solve the problem or do they want an issue to campaign on in November?"
An estimated 5,00,000 illegal immigrant families and minors from Central America have been released into the United States since 2014 as the USA immigration authorities do not follow a policy of deporting such immigrants held for illegal entry.