One official said it was the Justice Department that generated the legal strategy that is codified in the working executive order, and disputed the notion that Homeland Security was involved in drawing up the document. Some argued that the policy to separate parents and children isn't different than what happens to other criminals who are arrested or imprisoned.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Trump noted that the order would maintain his "zero tolerance" policy on people attempting to immigrate illegally into the United States, but that it would allow children to remain with their parents or other adult guardians.
Video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children had sparked anger as the images were broadcast worldwide.
Trump also said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi are both weak on crime and border security. My wife feels very strongly about it. "We have to act and I hope we can pass that law", he said.
"But at the same time I think you have to understand we are keeping families together, but we have to keep our borders strong".
On Wednesday, President Trump did something no politician likes to do: He at least tacitly admitted he was wrong and made a dramatic retreat.
But according to Axios, Trump "doesn't want to look weak" by backing down.
He had tried to blame Democrats for the separations policy and force them into concessions, including funding for a wall he wants to build along the border with Mexico.
Prior to Trump's remarks, White House aides refused to comment on rumors of an executive order and Republicans on Capitol Hill seemingly had no knowledge of a coming executive action.More news: One killed as van runs into fans at Dutch music festival
He said his order would not end the "zero-tolerance" policy that criminally prosecutes all adults caught crossing the border illegally.
"It's certainly the case that right now we have the lawful authority to detain a family unit for up to 20 days", said Gene Hamilton, counselor to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
He said there is nothing wrong with the administration seeking to modify the Flores settlement, but expects it will fail. He added that Speaker Ryan did not say he was willing to make changes to the measure.
A potential executive order could emerge as a fallback option for the administration if it wants to alleviate the crisis should the House bill not pass - but talk that it is a possibility seems likely to undermine momentum for Republican senators to take a tough immigration vote.
"Children and families belong in communities, not in family concentration camps", said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
Earlier this week, ProPublica obtained chilling audio of 10 Central American children screaming inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection after being separated from their parents, which quickly went viral.
USA immigration officials say 2342 children were separated from 2206 parents between 5 May and 9 June. Trump blamed Democrats for the lack of current legislation sto address this issue.
"As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching".