UN chief criticizes Trump family separation policy
© Getty Images

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday spoke out against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE’s controversial "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. 

“As a matter of principle, the Secretary-General believes that refugees and migrants should always be treated with respect and dignity, and in accordance with existing international law,” Stephanie Dujaracc, a spokesperson for Guterres, said in a statement obtained by Voice of America.

“Children must not be traumatized by being separated from their parents. Family unity must be preserved,” the statement continued.

The policy, which seeks prosecution for any adult crossing the southern border illegally, has resulted in the separation of hundreds of migrant families. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy last month, stating that the changes would help deter future immigrants from attempting the journey to the United States.


The Portuguese leader issued his remarks just hours after the United Nation’s top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, called on the Trump administration to end its "zero-tolerance" policy, calling the practice abusive. 

“The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” al-Hussein said.

Al-Hussein also cited a statement from the president of the American Association of Pediatrics, who said that detaining children separately from their parents was “government-sanctioned child abuse” that could cause permanent and irreversible harm to children.