As the first lady spoke with officials at a detention facility for immigrant minors on the border about reuniting children with their parents on Thursday afternoon, President Trump told reporters that he’s directed his Cabinet officials to reunite the families his administration ripped apart in the first place.
Trump returned to a exhaustive talking point that “Democrats and court-ordered loopholes” prevent families from being detained together and “lead to family separation, no matter how you cut it.”
“I signed a very good executive order yesterday but that’s only limited,” he said. “No matter how you cut it, it leads to separation ultimately. I’m directing HHS, DHS and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and reunite these previously separated groups.”
He then went on to blame the Obama administration for the family separation policy, despite the fact that his administration enacted the “zero tolerance” policy that has led to an uptick in the arrests and criminal charges being brought against anyone caught crossing the border illegally.
Under previous administrations, families were often detained together, which is what Trump would like to see happen again with his new executive order. The “court ordered loopholes” comment references a 1997 court decision that limits how long an immigrant child can be detained, which the Trump administration has cited as its rationale for separating families when parents are arrested.
Before his comments on Thursday, it was unclear whether the administration planned to make efforts to reunite those already separated from their parents.