Schumer, Pelosi demand Trump begin reuniting separated families
© Greg Nash

Top congressional Democrats are demanding President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE begin reuniting immigrant families who were separated under the administration's "zero tolerance" policy.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiPelosi meets with Parkland students and parents, says gun control would be atop Dems’ agenda The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns Election Countdown: O'Rourke goes on the attack | Takeaways from fiery second Texas Senate debate | Heitkamp apologizes for ad misidentifying abuse victims | Trump Jr. to rally for Manchin challenger | Rick Scott leaves trail to deal with hurricane damage MORE (D-Calif.) released a letter to Trump on Thursday saying they were "deeply dismayed" that the administration hadn't started trying to reunite thousands of children separated from their families.

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"It seems that the administration lacks a plan, intention, and a sense of urgency to begin reuniting these children — many of whom have suffered serious emotional anguish — with their parents," the two Democratic leaders wrote in their letter.

Schumer and Pelosi are demanding the administration present a plan "as soon as possible" to reunite children already separated. 
That plan, according to the two lawmakers, should include undoing the zero tolerance immigration policies that lead to families being separated along the border, reuniting families and, once reunited, providing alternatives to detention. 
 
"These alternatives have a proven track record and are significantly cheaper for taxpayers than the artificially-prolonged incarceration of asylum seekers that only enriches private companies in the business of running prisons," Schumer and Pelosi wrote.
 
The letter comes after Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday afternoon allowing for immigrant families detained along the border to be kept together "where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources." 
 
The decision followed days of backlash and high-profile coverage of immigrant children being separated from their parents when they were detained along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"For the last several weeks, Americans of all political stripes have been appalled by the sounds and images of young children who were separated from their parents," Schumer and Pelosi wrote.

In the immediate wake of the executive order The New York Times cited a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official as saying that roughly 2,300 children already separated will not immediately be reunited with their family members, who will remain detained throughout their immigration proceedings.

“There will not be a grandfathering of existing cases,” Kenneth Wolfe, spokesman for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), part of HHS, told the Times. 
 
But a spokesman for the ACF walked back comments those comments late Wednesday. 

"An ACF spokesperson misspoke earlier regarding the Executive Order signed today by the President. It is still very early and we are awaiting further guidance on the matter," the department's communications director, Brian Marriott, said in a statement.