President Donald Trump's executive order will now keep children with their parents after crossing the border, but many are still critical, saying this does nothing to help reunite the children that have already been separated from their parents.
- President Donald Trump says he wants strong, compassionate borders
- Democrats say order does not address how children will reunite with parents
- RELATED: President Trump signs executive order keeping migrant families together
- MORE INFO: Read the executive order
Trump says he wants strong but compassionate borders after signing an executive order that would now keep children detained with their parents instead of being separated upon crossing the border illegally.
His administration's zero-tolerance policy to prosecute every immigrant crossing the U.S.-Mexican border illegally led to around 2,300 children being separated from their families since it was issued in late April.
While the executive order addresses that family separation, Trump said the border will remain just as tough as it has been.
He signed the order just before heading to a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, where he criticized Democrats' stance on immigration.
"Democrats don't care about the impact of uncontrolled migration in your community is, your schools, your hospitals. Democrats put illegal immigrants before they put American citizens," the president declared.
Democrats remain critical of Trump's treatment of immigrants crossing the border illegally. California U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell pointed out that the executive order does not take back, what he says, the damage that has been done.
"The president was right to stop that policy, but let's not give him a medal for starting the fire and then bringing the fire hose," Swalwell said. "The best thing we can do is to stay loud as American citizens, because I think that's what moved him to do the right thing. But also to make sure that we are not indefinitely detaining families."
More has come out about the whereabouts of some of the 2,300 children who have been separated from their parents. Some were sent as far as New York or Michigan. However, it remains unclear how they will be reunited with their parents.
The more than 2,000 children who already have been moved to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services will not be immediately reunited with family members.
It has also created concerns that the changes do not go far enough, allowing children to still be held in detention even if they remain with their families.
"We are pleased that the president is calling a halt to his inhumane and heartless policy of separating parents from their children," said Peter Schey, the lawyer in a lawsuit that resulted in a key agreement governing the treatment of migrant children in detention called the Flores settlement.
It remains unclear what will happen with the more than 2,300 children separated from their parents at the border in recent weeks. Officials have said they are working to reunite families as soon as possible but have provided no clear answers on how that will happen.
"This is a stopgap measure," said Gene Hamilton, counsel to the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Justice Department lawyers were planning to file a challenge to the Flores settlement, which requires the government to release children from custody and to their parents, adult relatives or other caretakers, in order of preference.
If those options are exhausted, authorities must find the "least restrictive" setting for a child who arrived without parents.
Justice Department lawyers will seek permission to allow for the detention of families until criminal and removal proceedings are completed.
Delaware Sen. Tom Carper said he was concerned about whether parents can track down their kids.
"I am also deeply troubled to hear reports that the administration, in its haste to hold innocent children hostage in order to demand funds for a border wall, failed to plan appropriately to reunite these families following their separation," the Democrat said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.