President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily ending his controversial family separation policy.
“I didn’t like the sight or feeling” of children being separated from their parents, Trump said at the White House.
His administration ordered the separation of children from their parents at the border as a result of their zero-tolerance prosecutions of immigrants seeking refuge in the U.S.
But Trump said the zero-tolerance policy would continue.
Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen drafted the order Wednesday, and Trump signed it a short time later.
The president had hoped to use the detained children as leverage to force Democrats to agree to legislation funding a border wall and other Republican anti-immigration measures.
Trump’s executive order will try to get around a 1997 consent decree that prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigrant detention, even with their parents, for more than 20 days.
That will almost certainly trigger a court challenge.
It’s not clear at this point what will happen to the children detained in camps near the border or sent to social service agencies in other states.