The Trump administration family separation policy began in 2018 and involves prosecuting all adults, including those applying for asylum, apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Under the policy, termed "zero tolerance", federal authorities separate children from their parents, relatives, or other adults who accompanied them in crossing the border. The parents are sent to federal jails while children and infants are placed under the supervision of the Department of Health and Human Services.
According to the Department of Homeland Security the policy has led to the separation of around 2,000 children from their parents in just six weeks, though the figure may be much higher. In April and May 2018, an average of 45 children were taken from their parents per day, with a total of 30,000 children expected to be detained by August 2018. According to internal documents of the Border Patrol, 91% of the parents whose children had been forcibly taken away were being charged only with a misdemeanor.
The policy has attracted significant criticism and protest since its public announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on May 7, 2018.