Nearly 1,800 families split at US-Mexico border from late 2016 to February 2018: report

Nearly 1,800 families split at US-Mexico border from late 2016 to February 2018: report
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The Trump administration separated nearly 1,800 families at the U.S.–Mexico border between October 2016 and February of this year, a senior government official told Reuters on Friday.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials have officially acknowledged that more than 2,400 children were separated from their families during the nearly 17-month period. The official, according to Reuters, would not confirm whether any of the separations occurred in the last three months of former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump has the right foreign policy strategy — he just needs to stop talking The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump faces bipartisan criticism over Putin presser, blames media for coverage Wall Street Journal editorial board rips Trump on Helsinki: It was a 'national embarrassment' MORE's administration.

The report marks the only publicly accessible, comprehensive data on the policies that separate families at the U.S.–Mexico border, though the data does not include much of this year. Last month, a CBP official testified that there were 638 separations between May 6 and May 19.

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The data also comes months after the Department of Homeland Security, under President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE, implemented its "zero tolerance" policy that mandates all those apprehended illegally entering the U.S. receive criminal charges. The policy generally results in children being separated from their parents as they face charges, Reuters reported.

According to the unnamed official, the statistic on family separation has not been tracked up until now due to a lack of of public interest.

“Why weren’t we pulling these statistics before? Because it wasn’t a big enough phenomenon that had public interest,” the official said. “Now it’s increasing and it’s of public interest.”

Democrats and immigrants' rights groups, including the ACLU, have criticized the Trump administration's policies, calling them excessively harsh on vulnerable immigrants with children.

“Taking a child away from their parent and interfering with the basic constitutional right to family unity, that’s about the most draconian thing you can do and it needs the most compelling reason possible,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt told Reuters.

“Deterrence is a policy measure that uses these children as pawns and violates the basic fundamental notion of what’s in the child’s best interest.”