The "zero tolerance" policy put into place last month moves adults to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sends many children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services. The order aims to keep families together while they are in custody, expedite their cases, and ask the Department of Defense to help house families. "We don't like to see families separated".
Although Trump's crackdown is aimed at deterring irregular migration to the USA, the North American country has witnessed has witnessed a surge since October, with many migrants fleeing violence and extreme poverty in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
The order is "a restatement of the current policy to prosecute, detain and deport Central American asylum seekers", said Kerri Talbot, legislative director of The Immigration Hub, a national organization that supports immigrant and refugees organizations.
"To find a way to welcome the refugee and the immigrant -- to be big enough and wise enough to uphold our laws and honor our values at the same time -- is part of what makes us American", said the former president, while acknowledging that Wednesday was World Refugee Day.
At a news conference earlier Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he remained hopeful that his chamber would pass a broader immigration bill Thursday that would include provisions aimed at ending the separations that have resulted from the "zero tolerance" policy. There was already a significant issue as to whether separating children was constitutionally permissible; the question of whether their new housing meets constitutional standards now will be litigated, no doubt.
"The order says the Department of Homeland Security and not the Justice and Health and Human Services Departments, as under previous policy would have continuing responsibility for the families".
The administration has consistently said that it was forced to separate families due to a court case known as "the Flores Settlement".
US Customs and Border Protection has said 2,342 children were separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border between 5 May and 9 June.
In recent days, the Republican president had insisted his hands were tied by law on the issue of family separations and had sought to blame Democrats, although it was his administration that implemented the policy of strict adherence to immigration law.
A subsequent ruling in 2016 bars the government from keeping children in family detention centers for more than 20 days. After the Congresswoman from Wisconsin had finished speaking, Trump told her, "Say hello to your father. They really would like to have open borders where anybody in the world can just flow in, including the Middle East", said Trump. "Children, especially those fleeing persecution, need safety and environments where they can thrive and play and be safe". They are pairing children with unrelated adults, knowing adults who enter the United States with children won't be detained.
In 2015, a federal judge in Los Angeles expanded the terms of the settlement, ruling that it applies to children who are caught with their parents as well as to those who come to the USA alone.