Trump 'manufactured' separations crisis, never intended to reunify families: Dem senator

Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Female Democratic Senate candidates in Colorado ask DSCC to rescind Hickenlooper endorsement Democrats press Trump Treasury picks on donor disclosure guidelines MORE (NV) said Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE never intended to reunited separated families at the U.S. southern border, saying the administration was the one who created the crisis in the first place. 

“This administration and Homeland Security and HHS – they manufactured this crisis…they never had an intent to reunify these families,” Masto told Hill.TV correspondent Jamal Simmons.

Masto pointed to a government report that hundreds of parents may have been deported without their children. The immigrant families were separated as a result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

On Monday, administration officials said 463 parents of separated children aged 5 years and older could have been potentially deported without their children. But the exact number is still “under review.”

Government attorneys and administration officials, including U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenKirstjen Nielsen drops out of Atlantic Media event after liberal backlash Pence taps former DHS spokeswoman as his new press secretary DHS officials called lawmaker visit to migrant detention facility a 'Hill stunt' MORE, have maintained that parents who were deported without their children willingly gave up custody.

But, after going to the border and talking with families, Masto says she doesn’t buy it, calling it a “total lie.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that some of those parents thought they were signing something that was going to reunify them,” Masto told Hill.TV. 

The Trump administration declared Thursday it met its court-ordered deadline to reunite more than 2,500 migrant children with their parents. The deadline, which set for midnight Pacific time Thursday, was set by a federal judge in June.

The administration on Thursday identified 1,634 parents eligible for reunification with their children, out of a possible 2,551 children ages 5 and up in custody. Out of the parents still in the country, more than 900 are already facing a final order of deportation, the administration said.

— Tess Bonn