Watch CBS News

Timeline for reuniting separated families remains unclear as questions mount

Questions remain after Trump's order
What happens to children separated from their parents after Trump's executive order? 03:16

MCALLEN, Texas -- Melania Trump began her unexpected border visit at Upbring New Hope Children's Shelter with an offer of help.

"How I can help to these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible?" she asked.

A handful of the nearly 60 children housed at the shelter have been separated from their parents.

"Most of the children here have escaped some pretty horrific situations where they've been asked to join gangs, have said no to joining gangs but are worried about their own lives. So they're escaping some pretty horrific situations," said Kurt Senske, the CEO of Upbring.

The first lady's tour was nearly overshadowed by her choice to wear a Zara jacket, which she took off before touring the facility, that read "I really don't care. Do u?" Her spokesperson tried to shut down criticism saying, "It's a jacket. There was no hidden message." But later on Thursday, President Trump tweeted that the jacket "refers to the fake news media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!"

Melania Trump's stop was less than 24 hours after Mr. Trump, under intense pressure, signed an executive order temporarily halting the separation of children from their parents who cross the border illegally.

But the timeline for reuniting more than 2,300 children with their parents remains far from clear. CBS News reached out to multiple government agencies for answers on when and how it would be done, and so far, there's no response.

Minors as young as 8 months old have already been sent to one of 100 shelters in 17 states.

"You know, I think that there is currently no system in place to reunite children with parents who are in detention," said Bob Carey, the former director for the Office of Refugee Resettlement during the Obama administration.

Prosecutors on Thursday declined to charge 17 adults who crossed the border illegally. One legal observer, who was in the courtroom, says that's interesting because under the "zero tolerance" policy, every adult who crosses the border illegally is supposed to be prosecuted.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.