Mayors from about 20 US cities accused Trump of failing to address humanitarian crisis he created.
Fear over practical implementation of order to end family separation causes US border to slide further into confusion.
Widespread confusion has been reported at the US-Mexico border after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order which is to end the separation of immigrant families.
There was uncertainty among federal agencies on how to implement the measure, while parents did not know where their children were being held.
A senior Trump administration official said that 500 of the more than 2,300 children separated from their families at the border had been reunited since May. It’s unclear how many of these children were still in detention with their families.
An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said federal agencies were working on a centralized reunification process for the remaining separated children and their families.
Trump signed the order on Wednesday after he came under political pressure for enforcing a policy that resulted in the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents or legal guardians at the border.
The separations have been a consequence of this prosecution, as minors cannot be held with their parents or legal guardians.
The “zero tolerance” policy will remain, despite the executive order.
Confusion arose at the border as it was not immediately clear what the practical implementation of the order should be.
A Pentagon spokesperson said that space would be made available for 20,000 migrant children on four military bases, though it remained uncertain if these beds would be for unaccompanied minors or families.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) asked a federal court on Thursday to alter the 1997 Flores settlement so that families can be detained together for the duration of their cases’ processing time. Under the settlement – which was expanded in 2016 to apply to accompanied as well as unaccompanied children – minors held with their families cannot remain in custody for more than 20 days.
The DOJ’s request prompted a continued contest from rights groups, who say the Flores settlement is in place for a reason, to protect children from detention.
“Wednesday’s executive order, while suggesting to stop future family separation, calls for families to be detained together, which was this administration’s target from the get-go,” Lorella Praeli of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement on Thursday.
With the executive order Trump “paved the way to begin massive internment of families who come to the United States seeking asylum,” Praeli added.
“If the president thinks placing families in jail indefinitely is what people have been asking for, he is grossly mistaken.”
A lawyer with the ACLU said that the organisation plans to seek an order in the federal court in San Diego compelling the reunification of immigrant parents with their children.
On Thursday, the federal public defender for the Western District of Texas told AP they would dismiss cases in which parents were charged with illegally entering or re-entering the country and were subsequently separated from their children.
In McAllen, Texas, prosecutors did not seek prosecution of 17 immigrants in light of the executive order.
The House of Representatives rejected a hard line immigration bill on Thursday and postponed a vote on a compromise bill to Friday.
Republican party members are seperated on the compromise bill, which offers ‘Wishers’ a pathway to citizenship and frees up $25bn for construction of Trump’s border wall. Democrats stood against the law.
Protests against Trump’s border and immigration policies continued into the weekend.
In Portland, Oregon, dozens of protesters occupied the local US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, forcing its closure on Wednesday. Similar protests are happening in cities nationwide, including Los Angeles and New York City.
Mayors from about 20 US cities gathered at a holding facility for immigrant children in El Paso, Texas, on Thursday, accusing Trump of failing to address a humanitarian crisis he himself created.
“It is unclear whether the children being separated from their families are being treated as unaccompanied minors,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said.
“They do not know where these children’s parents are. This is a humanitarian crisis.”
The ACLU also questioned what happens to the children whose parents have already been deported or do not know their parents’ names or the countries they are from.
“The pains that has been induced on these families is irreparable, and it is going to be an almost impossible nightmare to undo it,” the right organization’s Praeli said.
“And the saddest part is that it didn’t need to happen.”