Trump and top White House aides 'aggressively' pushed for the family separation policy at the border, new Justice Department Inspector General report finds
- A new Justice Department report directly implicated President Donald
Trumpin the zero-tolerance family separationpolicy at the US-Mexico border.
- Trump has repeatedly tried to distance himself from the policy that stripped children away from their migrant parents.
- In late October, ACLU lawyers said the parents of 545 children could not be located.
President Donald Trump and top White House aides "aggressively" pushed for the policy that led to children being separated from their immigrant parents at the border, a new Justice Department report.
Gene Hamilton, a top official wrote in the report that the policy was enacted after complaints from Trump and others in the White House.
"The attorney general was aware of White House desires for further action related to combating illegal
Hamilton said that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions got the impression that he needed to take quick action on the issue. Sessions then told Hamilton to draft a memo that would put in effect a zero-tolerance approach to immigration enforcement at the border," on April 3 2018.
In October 2020, a draft report from the department's inspector general found that Sessions' and other top Justice Department officials were "a driving force" behind the policy at the US-Mexico border.
That draft report, based on Michael Horowitz's investigation into the "zero tolerance" policy, said Sessions and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called for the separation of children from parents no matter how young they were.
The New York Times reported that based on notes from two separate interviews with Sessions and Rosenstein, law enforcement officials were pushing for the policy based on the pressure from Trump.
In a May 11, 2018 meeting Sessions told prosecutors that Trump was "very intense, very focused" on the border issue, The Times reported.
Sessions also told prosecutors: "We need to take away children."
Rosenstein did not reply to Insider's request for comment at the time of publication but told The Times he was regretful for his role.
"Since leaving the department, I have often asked myself what we should have done differently, and no issue has dominated my thinking more than the zero-tolerance immigration policy," he said. "It was a failed policy that never should have been proposed or implemented. I wish we all had done better."
In the October draft report, Rosenstein allegedly doubled down on Sessions' command for prosecutors to take away children.
He told the prosecutors that they should not have refused to prosecute two cases because the kids were very young, The Times reported.
The Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy led to thousands of migrant children being separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
Women who were breastfeeding have said immigration authorities separated them from their babies at the border. In October, The Times reported the draft report seemed to confirm this, with a prosecutor writing, "I did not believe this until I looked at the duty log."
In a court filing sent at the end of October 2020, Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union said they couldn't find the parents of 545 migrant children that were separated as a result of the Trump administration policy. They added that they believed that "approximately two-thirds" of those parents were deported without their children.
During several instances, Trump and other administration officials have tried to distance themselves from the policy. The president at one point even falsely claimed that Democrats were behind the policy.
The White House did not reply to a request for comment at the time of publication.
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