Sending a message: Children take part in a protest against US immigration policies outside the US embassy in Mexico City. Picture: AFP/Pedro Pardo
Sending a message: Children take part in a protest against US immigration policies outside the US embassy in Mexico City. Picture: AFP/Pedro Pardo

US president Donald Trump has made an about-turn on a policy that was a step too far — even for a presidency that has probed the outer limits of civility — by signing an order to stop the separation of children from parents who enter the US illegally.

Over the past two months, about 2,300 children have been separated from their parents in Trump’s "zero tolerance" policy on illegal crossing of the Mexican border.

The families were separated after attorney-general Jeff Sessions decided that all immigrants arrested crossing the border illegally would be prosecuted. While in jail awaiting trial, parents were separated from their children because US law does not permit minors to be jailed if they are not charged with a crime.

ABC television network reported that the children were being held in sites scattered across the country, including in "a converted Walmart which houses roughly 1,500 boys".

Now Trump wants to send the immigrants back home without going through those pesky courts.

This, from the Tweeter-in-Chief: "We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.

"Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order."

In an effort to dampen the outcry over the detained children, first lady Melania Trump visited a detention centre in Texas. For her flight to the state, she chose to wear a coat bearing the slogan: "I really don’t care, do u?"

The message was pretty clear, and a new controversy exploded.

President Trump responded on Twitter: "I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U? written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!"

The children, meanwhile, remain separated from their parents. Someone, it would seem, really doesn’t care.

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