President Trump returned to his tough talk and demands for changes in immigration laws a day after he retreated from his hard-line position of separating immigrant children from their families, capitulating to intense political pressure.
The president tweeted demands on Thursday — change the laws, build a wall, do not hire immigration judges — as his administration scrambled to execute his latest executive order. Political pressure was amplified in recent days by pictures and recordings of young children crying for their parents.
Despite the new executive order, the Trump administration faces the challenge of reuniting more than 2,000 children with their families. And the new policy is expected to face legal challenges if the Trump administration detains families for more than 20 days, the legal limit under the current laws.
At a campaign rally in Duluth, Minn., on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said of other countries, “They’re not sending their finest. We’re sending them the hell back. That’s what we’re doing.”
House lawmakers on Thursday are expected to vote on two competing immigration proposals, even as the executive order relieved some of the pressure to act rapidly.
“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the executive order in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
Mr. Trump has faced pressure to end the policy from his own Republican party, as well as from his wife, Melania, and one of his daughter’s, Ivanka. Since the administration began enforcing the “zero tolerance” policy in May, Melania Trump has been pressuring her husband not to separate children from their parents.
According to estimates, more than 2,400 children under the age of 12 — many of whom are toddlers and infants — are in special “Tender Age” shelters. Despite halting the separation of families, these children who are already in custody are not expected to be reunited immediately with their families as the adults are in custody during their immigration proceedings, a Health and Human Services official said.