At a Senate hearing earlier this month, US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Trump Administration policy will refer everyone caught crossing the border illegally for prosecution, even if they are claiming they deserve asylum or have small children. Any parents who are prosecuted as a result will be separated from their children in the process.
In April, a New York Times investigation estimated that more than 700 children, including 100 under the age of 4, had been taken from their parents at the southern border since October, citing federal Department of Homeland Security officials. The U.S. government then places these children into the homes of sponsors or caregivers.
While testifying before a Senate subcommittee on April 26, Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, said the Office of Refugee Resettlement was not able to account for the whereabouts of 1,475 migrant children it had placed.
Now President Donald Trump is blaming Democrats for his administration’s controversial policy of taking children away from parents caught unlawfully crossing into the United States with them, a practice the White House says is a deterrent to illegal immigration.
The president’s criticism of the “horrible” policy comes less than a month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” approach to illegal border crossings. “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he warned.
Trump’s tweet came a day after Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., attacked his policy of splitting up children and parents. “There are many ways to describe the @realDonaldTrump policy of ripping children away from their parents at the border. It violates human rights laws. It is unAmerican. It would shock Jesus. But I think the most appropriate way to describe it is this: The policy is evil,” Lieu tweeted.