The directive does not, on its own, toughen immigration policy or take concrete steps to do so; it merely directs officials to report to the president about steps they are taking to “expeditiously end ‘catch and release’ practices.” But it is a symbolic move by Mr. Trump to use his executive action to solve a problem that he has bitterly complained Congress will not…

The latest directive instructs the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice and Health and Human Services to report to the president within 45 days on their efforts to ensure that those immigrants are detained, including steps taken to allocate money to build detention facilities near the borders. The agencies must also detail efforts to ensure unauthorized entrants do not “exploit” parole and asylum laws to stay in the United States, including evaluating how they determine whether migrants have “credible fear” of returning to their country of origin — the legal bar that people claiming asylum must meet to avoid prompt removal.

The memo also orders a list of existing facilities, including military sites, that could be used to detain those violating immigration law, and detailed statistics on credible claims of fear and how they have been processed since 2009.