JUN 15, 2018: Nearly 2,000 minors were separated from their parents or adult guardians who illegally crossed into the United States over a recent six-week period, officials said Friday in the most comprehensive 2018 figures provided on family separations.
Between April 19 and May 31 of this year, the 1,995 children were separated from 1,940 adults who were being held by US border patrol in preparation for prosecution for crossing the border illegally, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said on a call with reporters.
The detention numbers appear to have spiked after President Donald Trump´s administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings, with a DHS official defending the policy by saying “we are not going to ignore the law any longer.”
The separations are a consequence of this prosecution, as minors cannot be detained with their parents or legal guardians.
The policy has come under fire from politicians, immigration advocates and human rights groups.
Earlier this month, thousands of people rallied in cities across the US calling on Trump to reverse the policy.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights last week said the practice “amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child”.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the policy “shameful” and said there’s no policy justification for it.
Reacting to the separations of children from their families, California Senator also urged the Trump administration to end “the immoral policy”.
On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions cited Christian scripture to justify detaining children separately from their fathers and said that, “Consistent, fair application of law is in itself a good and moral thing, and it protects the weak”.
A day later, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders drew further anger and ridicule from many online after seemingly invoking the Bible to justify the Trump administration’s policy.
The number of deportations of those already in the US grew by 37 percent during Trump’s first year in office when compared with the same period in 2016, according to government data.