New data has revealed that the Trump administration had begun family separations in Yuma, Arizona, months before what had originally been reported. Under a program called the Criminal Consequence Initiative, Border Patrol agents began family separations as early as May 2017. This program also allowed for the prosecution of first-time border crossers, including parents who entered the U.S. with their families. The data available shows that 234 families were separated in Yuma between the months of June and December that year, though actual figures are most likely greater. Some of the families separated under this program still have not been reunited, four years later. In addition, the children separated in Yuma during this period were as young as 10 months old. Biden administration investigations on Trump-era family separations are finding that the scope and geographic breadth of the separations are much greater than was previously understood.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General released a report which documented cases of ICE agents expelling separated parents without their children, despite knowing that those parents wanted their children with them. The report also notes that it was unclear whether or not ICE gave some parents the option to reunify with their children before being expelled from the U.S. These cases occurred under the Trump administration’s family separation program. Between July 2017 and July 2018, as many as 348 parents were expelled from the U.S. without their children, with no documentation of whether they had agreed to be separated.
Lawyers are still trying to locate the parents of 506 children (down from 611 a month ago) separated under the Zero-Tolerance Policy, according to a recent court filing.
The Justice Department released a memo rescinding the “zero-tolerance policy” introduced by the Trump administration in 2018. This policy required the maximum number of people apprehended crossing the border between ports of entry to be prosecuted criminally for illegal entry. It resulted in the widely condemned separation of families, as parents were prosecuted and their children taken from them.
- Amnesty International releases a report on family separations throughout the border closure due to the pandemic. It focuses on three “family residential centers” in the United States: the Berks County Residential Center in Pennsylvania, the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, and the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas.