President Trump signed an executive order last week declaring that families would no longer be separated upon illegal entry into the United States.  Parents who cross illegally from Mexico to the United States with their children will no longer face prosecution for the time being because the government is running short of space to house them, officials said.

However, President Trump’s order does not necessarily address the reunification of families.  As of Tuesday, the government still had 2,047 children in custody, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a U.S. Senate committee, adding that reuniting them would be difficult.

President Trump has vowed to prosecute all adults who cross the border illegally, but the administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from parents has met criticism, so it is now trying to keep detained families together while the parents await trial.  It has been reported that this has created logistics problems of how to house those families and the Customs and Border Protection agency is now not referring new cases for prosecution.

A federal judge ruled late on Tuesday that the government must reunite families that were split up after entering the country, but immigration lawyers warned that the situation was tremendously complicated for parents who were sent home without their children.

The U.S. military has been asked by the Department of Homeland Security to house and care for immigrant families totaling up to 12,000 people, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.  In a statement, the  Pentagon said that the military has been asked to provide the capacity to house 2,000 people within 45 days.  If facilities were not available, semi-separate camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people were to be constructed at three separate locations.

The Pentagon said the Department of Homeland Security preferred the facilities for migrants to be in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, or California for access and supervision.  Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has stressed that it is simply providing logistical support to the Department of Homeland Security, which deals with immigration issues.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration was not dropping its policy of “zero-tolerance” of illegal immigration but it needed a “temporary solution” until it can house migrant families.

Meanwhile, seventeen U.S. states and Washngton, DC filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the Trump administration.  The lawsuit alleges that the “zero-tolerance” policy to prosecute more illegal border crossers and separate them from their children is in violation of immigrants’ constitutional rights and is illegally inflicting trauma on children. The lawsuit is the first legal challenge by states over the policy.