Video footage of children who had been separated from parents sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children had sparked worldwide anger over Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policies.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., added, "The President's executive order together with the legislation I'm cosponsoring should put us in position to enforce the law at the border and do it in a way where we keep families together".
Even though Trump has acted unilaterally to stem the family separations, lawmakers still prefer a legislative fix.
Heather Reynolds, the nonprofit's director, says the three are among 12 immigrant children at the shelter who were separated from their parents under a Trump administration "zero tolerance" policy. In addition to Wednesday's executive order, Trump held a Cabinet meeting at the White House to further discuss immigration reform.
FILE PHOTO: Immigrant children walk in single file at the facility near the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, June 19, 2018. It also directs the attorney general to seek to modify a 21-year-old settlement agreement that stipulates that the government can not hold minors in immigration detention for more than 20 days.
The administration argued in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that circumstances had changed. "And border security will be equal, if not greater than previously".
"Under current law and legal rulings, including this Court's, it is not possible for the USA government to detain families together during the pendency of their immigration proceedings", the filing reads. "It can not be done".
First lady Melania Trump on Thursday visited children displaced by the immigration crisis.
What just happened: President Donald Trump officially reversed his debunked argument that he had no authority to stop separations of undocumented immigrant families at the border.
Gee, appointed by Obama and the daughter of Chinese immigrants, said at the time the government had presented no competent evidence its proposed modification would address the problem of increased immigration.
The order requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to, "by the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations", hold in custody families, or members of families, who face pending criminal charges for illegal entry or other immigration proceedings-that is, both criminal and administrative proceedings. Trump also wants to build a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border, but he has failed to secure funding.
"The Flores settlement will need to be revised to allow indefinite detention of children", said immigration law professor and dean of the UC Davis School of Law Kevin Johnson. Ending the limitations on the length of time kids can be detained, the administration argues, is the only tenable alternative to splitting up families that are apprehended crossing the border illegally. The Trump administration assumes it will be able to renegotiate that, but doing so may prove impossible, given 20 years of subsequent legal rulings.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held the Fifth Amendment applies to non-U.S. citizens and covers family unity. But the government can point to cases saying separation of families by the criminal justice system is not unconstitutional, legal experts said. The ACLU is seeking a class-action lawsuit to halt the separation of children and families without good cause; a status conference is scheduled for Thursday in light of the executive order.