IN PICTURES | People march during rally to protest process of separating children from adults in US

Published: 22nd June 2018 07:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd June 2018 08:12 AM  

President Donald Trump ordered an end to the separation of migrant children from their parents on the US border Wednesday, reversing a tough policy under heavy pressure from his fellow Republicans, Democrats and the international community. IN PIC: People take part in a protest against US immigration policies outside the US embassy in Mexico City on June 21, 2018. | AFP
It also suggests the government intends to hold the families indefinitely by challenging an existing statute, the 1997 Flores Settlement, that places a 20-day limit on how long children, alone or with their parents, can be detained. That move could lead to new legal battles for the administration. IN PIC: People take part in a protest against US immigration policies outside the US embassy in Mexico City on June 21, 2018.| AFP
The spectacular about-face comes after more than 2,300 children were stripped from their parents and adult relatives after illegally crossing the border since May 5 and placed in tent camps and other facilities, with no way to contact their relatives. IN PIC: People march during a rally to protest the process of separating children from adults during detention when they cross the US border without the proper papers June 21, 2018.| AFP
Pictures and accounts of the separations sparked outrage and a rebellion among Republicans in Trump's own party, as well as international accusation that the US was committing human rights violations.| AFP
'What we have done today is we are keeping families together,' Trump said as he signed the executive order. 'I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.' Trump said that even with the change, border enforcement will be 'equally tough, if not tougher.'| AFP
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.| AFP
It also suggests the government intends to hold the families indefinitely by challenging an existing statute, the 1997 Flores Settlement, that places a 20-day limit on how long children, alone or with their parents, can be detained. That move could lead to new legal battles for the administration. IN PIC: People take part in a protest against US immigration policies outside the US embassy in Mexico City on June 21, 2018.| AFP
The policy, with mandatory separation of children from adults, was announced May 7 as a deterrent. The issue struck an emotional chord, amid accounts of children screaming and crying in facilities prepared for them. But the White House and officials had no answers Wednesday on how the 2,300 children would be reunited with their parents. IN PIC: People take part in a protest against US immigration policies outside the US embassy in Mexico City on June 21, 2018. | AFP
Democrats and Republicans had at least two bills crafted Wednesday to address broader immigration issues, but it was not clear if any had adequate support to pass.| AFP
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