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The United States government has separated nearly 2,000 minors from their families at the border between April 19 and May 31 as part of a crackdown by the Trump administrations on illegal immigration, according to a new report.
Over the six-week period, 1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults detained trying to enter the U.S. illegally, the Associated Press reported on Friday after obtaining Homeland Security numbers.
The figures, however, were not broken down by age and “included separations for illegal entry, immigration violations, or possible criminal conduct by the adult.”
The new controversial procedure, implemented by the Trump administration, is part of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' self-described "zero tolerance” policy aimed at further limiting illegal entries into the U.S.
Both Republicans and Democrats have criticized the Trump administration's policy of separating families at the border. “I think it is a horrible law,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said in May, adding that it's an issue that has “real bipartisan support” in Congress.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called the policy a “terrible outcome, to see the children separated from their parents.”
The Trump administration has defended the controversial policy, with the attorney general recently invoking the Bible: “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 the government for his purposes.”
“Our policy that can result in short-term separation of families is not unusual or unjustified,” he added.
Trump has blamed Democrats for the policy, arguing that they “forced that law upon our nation.”
.@realDonaldTrump: “The children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully, and immediately. The democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children.” pic.twitter.com/JNiVctZNPY
— The Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 15, 2018
He told reporters at the White House on Friday: “I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children. The Democrats can come to us as they actually are in all fairness, we are talking to them, and they can change the whole border security. We need a wall. We need border security. We've got to get rid of catch and release.”