WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump may have signed an executive order retreating from his child separation policy, but the government has no immediate plan to reunite more than 2,300 children, including an unknown number in Florida, with their parents.
The reality set in Wednesday evening after Trump gave in to overwhelming public and political pressure — and it adds to an array of questions that could keep the issue burning.
In a sign of the confusion, an official with the Administration for Children and Families said later Wednesday that an ACF spokesman had misspoken to the New York Times about the status of the children.
"It is still very early and we are awaiting further guidance on the matter," the official said.
We asked Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio along with Gov. Rick Scott for reaction.
"It's clear this order does not solve the problem. The Trump administration needs to reunite these families immediately," said Nelson, who raised the question earlier in the day.
"Senator Rubio believes these children should be reunited with their families, which is why he introduced a bill to do just that," a spokeswoman said. It's not clear how that legislation, if passed, would expedite reunification of already separated children.
Scott's office said, "The governor has been clear that he believes these children should be immediately reunited with their families and as his letter said yesterday, the State of Florida stands ready to help facilitate a quick reunification process."
Nelson has said that 74 children affected by the "zero tolerance" policy are housed at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children, and that there are 174 other children being held in children "that have been separated from their families."
But official numbers remain unknown as do details about immigration centers in Florida.
Nelson was denied access to the Homestead facility on Tuesday, but Wednesday night, Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, said she would tour the facility on Saturday.
"The facility is currently housing 1,192 teenagers, including 801 boys and 391 girls. It is unclear how many of them are there as a result of the White House's policy to separate migrant children and parents," read a statement from Wilson.