U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that The U.S. Department of Homeland Security would refer all arrests for illegal entry to federal prosecutors. A conviction for illegal entry carries a maximum penalty of six months in custody for first-time border-crossers. Nearly one of every four Border Patrol arrests on the Mexican border from October through April came as part of a family. The result of a large increase in prosecutions means a lot of parents will be separated from their children while they are in jail, facing charges. The children separated from their parents go into the system. to be placed with family or in shelters.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan, said,“Every law enforcement agency in this country separates parents from children when they’re arrested for a crime. There is no new policy. This has always been the policy. Now, you will see more prosecutions because of the attorney general’s commitment to zero tolerance.”
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said, “Criminalizing parents seeking protection for themselves and their children is inhumane, excessively punitive, and can deliberately interfere with their ability to seek asylum.” At a hearing in San Diego last week, a Trump administration lawyer did not dispute a report in The New York Times that more than 700 children had been taken from their families since October. Sessions said he has assigned an additional 35 prosecutors and 18 immigration judges to the border regions.
For more: PBS