Immigrations officials separated nearly 2,000 children from their parents after illegally crossing the border in April and May, the Department of Homeland Security said Friday.
DHS spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters on a conference call Friday afternoon that between April 19 and May 31, 1,995 minors were taken from adults who said they were their guardians. The adults were arrested as part of the department’s new “zero-tolerance” policy to prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally, including some seeking asylum.
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in early May.
Previous administrations have found other options to keep families together while they awaited court proceedings, NBC News reported. The Obama administration usually separated children from their guardians only if there were questions about the child’s safety.