Reaction to Trump's order ending family separations

ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams and ABC News contributor Tom Bossert discuss President Trump's executive order after his administration called for Congress to act.
2:56 | 06/21/18

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Transcript for Reaction to Trump's order ending family separations
That's just in this morning. In the meantime, let's bring in Dan Abrams and Tom Bossert, president trump's former homeland security adviser now an ABC news contributor. Welcome. First, Dan, you heard what the administration said. They said at first congress alone can fix this. The president then said when asked could he stop in that he couldn't through an executive order which is exactly what he did yesterday. But bottom line, could the president have picked up the phone days ago and called his justice department, his attorney general? Yeah, he didn't even need an executive order. This is about how the law is enforced. It's not about the law itself. There are going to be very serious legal questions that have to be addressed when you're talking about combining the zero tolerance policy with what courts have determined has to be the humane treatment of children and you now have a conflict but there is no question that when it came to the issue of separating children from their parents that this administration could have stopped it before and that no executive order was necessary. That you didn't need that moment we all saw 24 hours ago. In the meantime, I know the president said as he signed in that the word was coming in that -- the word comes to mind compassion actually was the word he used but this played out for days and the world watching, children in cage, the audio of the cries. Was it using these families to set an example and listen to this, Tom. Are you intending for parents to be separate fwrd their children? Are you intending to send a message? I find that offensive. Why? Because why would I ever create a policy that purposely does that? Perhaps as a deterrent. No. Is it a deterrent? Are you considering this a deterrent. Yes, hopefully people will get the message. Sounded like a contradiction there, Tom. So were they using these family, these children as deter rents? Not a contradiction. You have to play longer the clip. The action that the attorney general took in April was to tell his prosecutors that worked for him to prosecute first time offenders. A broader policy than we've had before. If you come in illegally, prosecute them and ultimately if they're guilty of it and return them to their country. That's the action. We've had a greater volume of prosecutions. The consequence is prosecute some people that cross with their children and so it wasn't the intention to deter people by separating children. It was the intention to deter illegal entry by prosecuting them. Remember that the alternative is catching them and releasing them. And back to Dan. That main question how long can they keep the families together and detain them? The court consent degree that exists is 20 days. And that's going to quickly be challenged. Now an executive order that will be challenged in court because you're going to ask how can that executive order exist with the current legal rulings that are currently on the books? Dan, Tom, thanks to you both. Michael. Thank you, David.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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