WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- On Friday, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that 1,995 children were separated from 1,940 adults by the Trump administration.
- That’s about 46 children separated every day over a six-week period, from April 19 to May 31.
- The “zero tolerance” immigration policy is separating children from their parents or legal guardians so that the adults can be prosecuted for illegal entry into the United States.
The Department of Justice announced the “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings in April as a measure by the Trump administration to fight illegal immigration.
The DHS officials criticized “the exaggerated and inaccurate reports about the policy,” in a news briefing with reporters last Friday. The agency cited a CNN report that an infant was taken from her mother’s arms while she was breastfeeding.
“We do not separate breastfeeding children from their parents. That does not exist, that’s not a policy, that’s not something that DHS does,” an official said during the briefing.
DHS officials also stated they had “no choice” because that is the law and that their only alternative option was to ignore it.
But the officials could not say whether parents were allowed to say their goodbye to their children before they are taken away to a separate facility.
Under the Obama administration and during the early part of the Trump administration, separating children from their parents was uncommon and reserved only for instances where the safety of a child was compromised.
Reuters reported that almost 1,800 immigrant families were separated over 17 months prior to February.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vigorously defended the “zero tolerance” policy, telling law enforcement officers that “the migrant families were to blame for their own break-ups and that his department’s actions were not ‘unusual or unjustified.’”
“To those who wish to challenge the Trump Administration’s commitment to public safety, national security, and the rule of law, I warn you: illegally entering this country will not be rewarded, but will instead be met with the full prosecutorial powers of the Department of Justice,” Sessions said in April.
On Friday, the president expressed regret about his administration’s policy and blamed Democrats in Congress.
“I hate children being taken away. That’s the Democrats,” President Trump told reporters.
The “zero tolerance” policy has been criticized by Democrats, Republicans, and Christian groups. Medical doctors said Friday that children who were separated from their parents could suffer permanent damage.
Source: NBC News