Border patrol chief: Family separations began long before Trump

Newly appointed Customs and Border Protection chief Carla Provost, in an interview that aired on Friday, defended separating families that illegally crossed the border by saying the practice has been in place since long before President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE took office. 

“Under all four administrations I have worked under, we have separated families for different reasons," Provost told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton on Wednesday on "Rising." 

"Obviously, the welfare of the child is of utmost concern for us. And we are still separating if that is of concern. If the parent or the guardian has a serious, criminal history, we will still separate them as well," she continued. 
 
The Trump administration has faced backlash for its zero tolerance policy, which calls for the prosecution of all adult migrants caught illegally crossing the U.S southern border and resulted in migrant children being separated from their families. 
 
President Trump gave in to bipartisan pressure in June and signed an executive order allowing migrant children and their parents to remain together in custody. 
 
Provost said on Thursday that there was never a family separations "initiative," but rather a prosecution initiative under the zero tolerance policy. 
 
"Let me be clear, there was never a family separation initiative, there was a prosecution initiative under zero tolerance," she said. "Under that initiative, when we first kicked that off, the intent was to prosecute all amenable adults, so there was no group that was excluded from that.” 
 
“I can tell you during the 45 days that family groups were included in there, about 85 percent of who we prosecuted were single adults. We’ve separated families throughout my entire career for various things," she added. 
 
More than 2,000 migrant children were detained separately from their parents during the 45 days between the announced launch of Trump's zero tolerance policy and Trump signing the executive order. 
 
The administration missed a court-ordered deadline last month to reunite all detained migrant children under age 5 with their parents, although the administration said it reunited all eligible families.
 
The government in total has reunited over 1,800 children ages 5 to 17 with their parents or sponsors, but numerous children were deemed ineligible to be reunited because of safety or legal concerns. 
 
The government also said that over 400 children were unable to be reunited with their parents because their parents were deported. 
 
— Julia Manchester