WASHINGTON — Bowing to pressure from anxious allies, President Donald Trump abruptly reversed himself Wednesday and signed an executive order halting his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents when they are detained illegally crossing the U.S. border.It was a dramatic turnaround for Trump, who has been insisting, wrongly, that his administration had no choice but to separate families apprehended at the border because of federal law and a court decision.The order does not end the “zero-tolerance” policy that criminally prosecutes all adults caught crossing the border illegally. But it would keep families together while they are in custody, expedite their cases and ask the Defense Department to help house them. It doesn’t appear to change anything for the some 2,300 children taken from their families since the policy was put into place.The news in recent days has been dominated by searing images of children held in cages at border facilities, as well as audio recordings of young children crying for their parents — images that have sparked fury, question of morality and concern from Republicans about a negative impact on their races in November’s midterm elections.Until Wednesday, the president, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials had repeatedly argued the only way to end the practice was for Congress to pass new legislation, while Democrats said Trump could do it with his signature alone. That’s just what he did.
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