81 migrant children split from families


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

The Trump administration separated 81 migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border since the June executive order that stopped the general practice amid a crackdown on illegal crossings, according to government data obtained by The Associated Press.

Despite the order and a federal judge’s later ruling, immigration officials are allowed to separate a child from a parent in certain cases – serious criminal charges against a parent, concerns over the health and welfare of a child or medical concerns. Those caveats were in place before the zero-tolerance policy that prompted the earlier separations at the border.

The government decides whether a child fits into the areas of concern, worrying advocates of the families and immigrant-rights groups that are afraid parents are being falsely labeled as criminals.

From June 21, the day after President Donald Trump’s order, through Tuesday, 76 adults were separated from the children, according to the data. Of those, 51 were criminally prosecuted – 31 with criminal histories and 20 for other, unspecified reasons, according to the data. Nine were hospitalized, 10 had gang affiliations and four had extraditable warrants, according to the immigration data. Two were separated because of prior immigration violations and orders of removal, according to the data.

“The welfare of children in our custody is paramount,” said Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees U.S. immigration enforcement. “As we have already said – and the numbers show: Separations are rare.”

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