About 2,000 children were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border over a recent six-week time period as a result of a "zero tolerance" policy that cracks down on illegal immigration, according to The Associated Press.
The report, which cites figures obtained from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), says that from April 19 through May 31, 1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults.
The separations are a product of a policy that was announced by Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE in early May. It instructs DHS to separate any child crossing the U.S.-Mexico border between ports of entry with adults before those adults are prosecuted. It is carried out even if a migrant is seeking asylum.
Sessions said the practice is a way to deter illegal immigration but DHS contends the policy is not intended for deterrence.
The overflow of children due to this policy led the Trump administration on Thursday to announce that it would build a "tent city" in Tornillo, Texas, that would hold about 450 beds for children.
Democratic lawmakers have slammed the policy as cruel and blamed it for overwhelming courts and U.S. attorney's offices. Sessions responded to criticism on Thursday by citing the Bible on enforcing the law.
Nearly 1,800 families were separated at the U.S.–Mexico border between October 2016 and February of this year, according to Reuters. McClatchy has also reported that the number of migrant children being held by the government without their parents has surged by 20 percent since the administration started enforcing the policy.