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VICE News

2,000 kids were separated from their parents at the border in just 6 weeks

Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "zero tolerance" policy is splitting up families.

by Alex Lubben
Jun 15 2018, 8:38pm

About 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the border in one six-week span, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The Associated Press first obtained the figure, which the Department of Homeland Security confirmed in a call on Friday, according to various media outlets. In April, the Trump administration mandated that every adult caught crossing the border illegally would be criminally prosecuted as part of a new “zero tolerance" policy meant to deter border crossings. What that has meant, in practice, is that parents have been detained and families have been wrested apart.

Now, the scale of the problem is clear: Between April 19 and May 31 alone, 1,995 children were separated from 1,940 adults, according to the AP. Because all adults are now being charged with a crime for crossing the border, they can’t be held with their children, who aren’t criminally charged for coming across with their parents.

Before the “zero tolerance” decree came down from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, prosecutors had some leeway in deciding who would and would not be charged for crossing the border. Some people wouldn’t have been charged, although even before the order, people were commonly charged with criminal reentry, after having been deported before.

The policy has been roundly criticized by advocates and religious groups, who’ve called the separation of children from their parents inhumane.

But Sessions defended the practice during a press conference Thursday with a Bible verse. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” he said.

Cover image: A girl stands with her mother during a Rally for Our Children event to protest a new "zero-tolerance" immigration policy that has led to the separation of families, Thursday, May 31, 2018, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)