On May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would adopt a “zero tolerance” policy toward anyone caught crossing into the US by Border Patrol. All border crossers would be referred to the Department of Justice, and everyone referred would be prosecuted for the misdemeanor of illegal entry.
As a result of that policy, dozens of parents have been separated from their children every day; the children are labeled “unaccompanied minors” and sent to government custody or foster care, and the parents are labeled criminals and sent to jail.
To many critics of the Trump administration, separating families is an unpardonable atrocity. Articles depict children crying themselves to sleep because they don’t know where their parents are; one Honduran man killed himself in a detention cell after his child was taken from him.
According to the Trump administration, between May 5 and June 9, 2,342 children were separated from their parents.
As outrage over the family separations mounts, the administration has come under pressure to change course. Lawmakers have proposed different ideas to end the crisis; advocates have called for a day of nationwide protests on June 30.
On June 20, President Trump signed an executive order directing the administration to keep children with their parents in immigration detention while their cases were working their way through the court system. In other words, family separation has now been replaced by family detention.