Homeland Security docs show admin thought zero tolerance policy would deter border crossers: report

Homeland Security docs show admin thought zero tolerance policy would deter border crossers: report
© Getty Images

The Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy that has led thousands of migrant children to be separated from their parents has not deterred those trying to enter the U.S. illegally, despite internal Department of Homeland Security documents obtained by CNN showing officials thought it would.

The documents indicate that shortly after the administration announced the policy in April, Homeland Security staff predicted the policy’s deterrent effects would quickly be apparent.

"The full impact of policy initiatives are not fully realized for 2-3 weeks following public messaging — however, some migrants already underway may temporarily halt to determine the effects of the new policy," one of the documents obtained by CNN says.


However, publicly released data showed that the number of people caught illegally crossing the border increased by about 5 percent when compared to April, CNN reported. The data also showed a spike in the number of unaccompanied children.

The family separations are a result of the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy that requires apprehended immigrant adults to be prosecuted by federal authorities.

When Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump distances himself from Rosenstein by saying Sessions hired him Gowdy: Declassified documents unlikely to change anyone's mind on Russia investigation Pompeo on Rosenstein bombshell: Maybe you just ought to find something else to do if you can't be on the team MORE announced the policy he noted that it would likely lead to more family separations, but said it would also deter future immigrants from trying to cross the southern border.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE has attempted to change the public’s perception of the issue by falsely blaming the Democrats for the policy.

The administration has largely defended the policy by arguing that they are enforcing laws already in the books.

On Monday, Session said if Congress passed legislation to build the wall along the southern border, the zero tolerance policy would not be necessary.

“President Trump has said this cannot continue. We do not want to separate parents from their children," Sessions told the National Sheriffs' Association annual conference on Monday.

"If we build the wall, if we pass legislation to end the lawlessness, we won’t face these terrible choices,” he added.