Under growing pressure from lawmakers in both parties, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that would allow illegal immigrant families detained by U.S. border authorities to remain together in many situations, ending an outcry over forced separations which took young children from their parents. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the President told reporters in the Oval Office, as he signed the new plan, which was drawn up as more and more Republicans publicly said Mr. Trump’s border crackdown had become a PR nightmare. “The border is just as tough, but we do want to keep families together,” the President told reporters, as he repeatedly emphasized that an early May “zero tolerance” prosecution policy for those caught crossing the border illegally would continue. It was that Trump Administration change which resulted in families being separated in recent weeks, spurring multiple news stories about young children, taken hundreds of miles away from their parents. President Trump signs an executive order to stop the family separation policy at the US-Mexico border: “We are going to keep the families together. I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated” https://t.co/LPwcGScxq4 https://t.co/0Eq4JsKT5Z — CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 20, 2018 The signing represented a rare retreat for the President on any controversial policy during his administration; in recent days, top officials had repeatedly said there was no requirement that families be separated, but under current federal law, that option was triggered when parents of the kids were prosecuted, under the ‘zero tolerance’ plan. “We have to have strong borders, and ultimately it will be done right,” the President declared. Mr. Trump had tried in recent days to place the blame on Democrats in Congress, saying his hands were tied on the matter of family separations, as top officials said the law left them no leeway for change. “What about executive action?” the President was asked during an impromptu press conference with reporters on the White House driveway last Friday. “You can’t do it through an executive order,” Mr. Trump replied. But that’s what he ultimately did. Trump just signed an executive order to end the policy of separating families at the southern U.S. border. “We’re going to have a lot of happy people” #tictocnews pic.twitter.com/snSEiINKyw — TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) June 20, 2018 The President’s move came amid a growing firestorm of criticism in Congress from members of both parties in the Congress, stirred by stories of young children taken away from their parents. “This must stop NOW,” tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), as he noted a story from his home state, where an 8-month old baby had been brought, after being taken from her parents. This must stop NOW. Only one person has the power to do so while Congress works through legislation: @POTUS @realDonaldTrump. https://t.co/1FWCuJMB1f — Justin Amash (@justinamash) June 20, 2018 “He can sign an executive order today,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who was blocked on Tuesday from visiting a group of detained children at a federal facility in Homestead, Florida. “This shameful chapter in American history lies with the President and his pen,” Nelson said, arguing the President started these separations, and should halt them. “We must stop the madness, and stop it now,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). “America is weakened in the eyes of the world,” added Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). “This is a policy straight from the pit of hell,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). There's nothing in the law that requires children be taken from their parents. There's nothing in the law that requires them to rip an infant from a parent's arms. The decision to enact this shameful policy was a decision made by this administration and this administration alone. pic.twitter.com/8RKeBz9E6g — Senator Bill Nelson (@SenBillNelson) June 20, 2018 GOP leaders also made clear they wanted the Trump Administration to change course. “As I said last week, we do not want children taken away from their parents,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, as he urged GOP lawmakers to unite behind a pair of immigration bills which are expected to be voted on Thursday. But while the Speaker and other Republicans said provisions in those bills would fix the family separation matter – those plans would not advance through the Senate – making it unlikely that Congress could anything done on the family separation matter. That left the President with just one option – an administrative reversal on something that he had fiercely stood behind the effort. President Trump: 'We're looking to keep families together. It's very important. We're going to be signing an executive order.' Full video here: https://t.co/WcckQSGazb pic.twitter.com/Z9aPBmazg2 — CSPAN (@cspan) June 20, 2018 The change on illegal immigrant families came in early May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy dealing with those illegally coming over the southern border. “Today we are here to send a message to the world: we are not going to let this country be overwhelmed,” Sessions said in that May 7 speech.