Trump's Justice Department Drove Border Policy That Separated Children From Parents

Published: Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 3:48pm
Updated: Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 3:49pm

A new report shows the Trump administration’s Justice Department under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions enacted the country’s toughest border policy against arriving immigrants knowing it would lead to children being separated from their parents.

The Office of Inspector General’s report is long awaited. It calls Sessions a driving force that pushed the Homeland Security Department to refer families trying to migrate into the U.S. for prosecution. The report shows Sessions told federal prosecutors "we need to take away children" rather than provide them with "amnesty."

In 2017, Sessions came to Nogales to announce a new crackdown on the Mexican border, just months after Donald Trump was inaugurated. 

"For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country. Be forewarned. This is a new era. This is the Trump era," Sessions said at the time.

Sessions and then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told federal prosecutors children would be taken away regardless of age. Rosenstein on Thursday told the Washington Post he regretted the zero tolerance policy.

Denise Bell is a researcher with Amnesty International. She called the policy cruel and inhumane. 

"I think that’s what all of us are reeling from and even though we understood the role of the Department of Justice and certainly the Department of Homeland Security, this report is damming in showing how much the department of justice was driving this," Bell said.

Amnesty International is calling on the incoming Joe Biden administration to investigate possible criminal cases against the authors of the policy.