US doubling down on strategy that separates families to curb border crossings

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday is reportedly set to announce that the administration will increase its prosecution of parents crossing the U.S. border illegally, in the hope it will convince people to avoid making the trek for fear they will be separated from their children.

“The Attorney General directed the U.S. Attorney’s offices to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for all offenses referred for prosecution,” a Homeland Security official told The Wall Street Journal

The Los Angeles Times was the first to report the planned announcement.

Sessions and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting Director Thomas Homan will reportedly be making the announcement in San Diego on Monday.

{mosads}The new policy is aimed mostly at those from Central American nations who arrive at the border seeking political asylum with their children. 

Adults will still be able to apply for asylum under the new policy, but they could be detained while their cases are reviewed. Children will be handled as if they came to the U.S. without an adult

By prosecuting adults and then treating their children as unaccompanied minors at the border, families would be separated as children are placed in shelters or with family while their cases for asylum are considered.

If unaccompanied minors come from countries other than Mexico or Canada, they could be placed with family or in shelters, while their parents’ cases are processed, which can last multiple years. 

Crossing the U.S. border without authorization is already a misdemeanor on the first offense, and can be a felony for people who have been previously taken out of the U.S. 

Reports surfaced last month that various immigration and border officials are pressing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to prosecute all parents crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally with their children in an effort to set an example for other migrants. 

Sessions said last week that U.S. attorneys and federal judges will be sent to the southern border to deal with immigration cases, while Nielsen warned that anyone who crosses the border illegally will be prosecuted. 

—Updated at 2:18 p.m.

Tags Jeff Sessions Kirstjen Nielsen

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