President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to end family separations at the United States southern border, a policy reversal after days of urging Congress to fix the issue.
“We’re signing an executive order. I consider it to be a very important executive order. It’s about keeping families together, while at the same time being sure we have a very powerful very strong border and border security will be equal, if not greater than previously,” the president said at the White House.
Trump made the announcement in the Oval Office with Vice President Mike Pence on his left and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on his right. “You’re going to have a lot of happy people,” the president said as he signed the order.
Watch the president’s announcement here:
“We’re going to have strong, very strong borders, but we’re going to keep the families together,” Trump said. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
According to the text of the executive order, it is now the policy of the Trump administration to “maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources.”
The order also calls out Congress’ “unfortunate … failure to act,” arguing that “court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”
The president and the administration have defended the policy at the border for days as pressure continued to mount for him to address it himself.
“Congress and the courts created this problem, and Congress alone can fix it,” Nielsen said Monday.
Both Republicans and Democrats had called on Trump to end the policy, with over a dozen Republican senators signing a letter asking him to stop the separating families at the border, while the president has called Congress to come up with a legislative fix.
The House on Thursday will vote on a bill that would permanently end the policy, but the prospects it’s not likely to ever make its way to the Senate.