DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – On Friday, The Trump administration released new numbers on how many families have been separated at the southwest border after parents are prosecuted for coming into the U.S. illegally.
There is no law that requires children be separated from their parents at the border. But a legal settlement from 21 years ago forbids children from being incarcerated.
While former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had zero-tolerance policies for those who crossed the border illegally, the Trump administration said Friday, it is no longer giving a pass to parents who cross the border with their children.
“The more and more I learn about it, the more and more mad and sad I become,” said Julio Acosta, a volunteer with Families Belong Together.
Acosta expressed outraged at the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border.
“The policy currently being enacted where children are being separated from their parents even when they’re applying for asylum, we want that to stop,” said Acosta.
While the Department of Homeland Security says it’s put in place a zero-tolerance policy, it denied it was separating asylum seekers.
DHS said between April 19 and May 31, there were 1,995 children separated from 1,940 adults at the southwest border.
Federal records show the number of criminal prosecutions for crossing the southwest border jumped to nearly 8,300 in April of this year.
That’s far higher than the nearly 3,200 prosecuted for the same crime in April of 2017.
This April’s statistics were the fifth highest since April 2007.
President Trump continued to blame Democrats.
“The children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully, and immediately,” President Trump said Friday. “The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children.”
But Friday, DHS said unlike previous years, it is no longer exempting classes of people from being prosecuted for crossing the border.
Catholic Charities has helped represent children who’ve crossed the border in court for years. Most have been teenagers who’ve come by themselves, but now, more young children are coming with their parents.
“We will be seeing as we have been seeing there’s going to be a shift in that they still may be children, but they were probably accompanied by their parents when they were first entering the U.S.,” said Luis Aranga of Catholic Charities.