"We're going to keep families together but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don't stand for and that we don't want".
"I didn't like the sight or feeling of families being separated", said Trump.
Leaving the meeting in the Capitol, he faced sign-wielding House Democrats who yelled and chanted in urging the president to end the family separation policy himself. Expanded facilities could be key, as migrant children separated from their parents are now housed by a different department, Health and Human Services.
Trump also ordered the Justice Department to expedite the adjudication of cases involving families with children when possible. In the meantime, he said, this is not a matter for the Pentagon to comment on.
The president's U-turn on the separation of children from their parents comes amid growing fury across the US's political spectrum over the detention of children, some as young as seven months old.
"While Pennsylvania proudly sent troops to help Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in the past year to assist with disaster relief and Governor Wolf believes we need to protect our borders from real threats, he opposes state resources being used to further President Trump's policy of separating young children from their parents, "Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott said". "This policy is taking children from the love and care that parents provide and putting them at risk of trafficking, abuse, and getting lost in the immigration system". Many are crossing the border to seek asylum. "Let's be clear that Trump is making a crisis of his own creation worse", said Karen Tumlin, director of legal strategy at the National Immigration Law Center, in a press call on Wednesday.
US Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue said: "Thousands of children are being forcibly removed from their parents by our government. this is not who we are and it must stop now".
At least 10 members of Congress say Nielsen should quit as her agency enforces the administration's zero tolerance policy, which has resulted in more than 2,000 children being separated from their parents at the US border since April.
House Republican Mario Diaz-Balart said the priority of ending the separations has been slotted into a compromise bill now under consideration and favored by GOP moderates.
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WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is drafting an executive action for President Donald Trump that would direct her department to keep families together in detention after they are detained crossing the border illegally, according to two people familiar with her thinking.
Several Republicans have said the more conservative plan is doomed, and that Trump's address was helpful in unifying the divided caucus.
The children are largely from Central American countries, where violence and gangs have forced many to flee.
Hundreds of immigrant children have been flown to shelters in cities far from where their parents are held. He said families would move to the head of the line for processing. "They really would like to have open borders where anybody in the world can just flow in, including from the Middle East, from anybody anywhere they can just flow into our country".
"It is cruel to separate families".
Tyler Houlton, a DHS spokesman, called the airlines' decision "unfortunate".
On the Senate side, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters after a closed-door Senate GOP lunch Tuesday: "We've got a problem, we need to fix it".
Meanwhile, House Republicans were pushing forward with votes Thursday on their broader immigration overhaul.
Republicans are rallying behind narrow legislation proposed by Sen. It allows families to be held together for 20 days.