Justice Officials Drove Family Separation Policy, Draft Watchdog Report Says

The report shows how officials at the Justice Department pushed the policy in meetings and directed its teams to prosecute all parents, regardless of how young their children were

In this June 10, 2017, file photo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, left, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein take their seats at the Justice Department's National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, in Bethesda, Md.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Top former Justice Department officials, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and deputy Rod Rosenstein, helped drive a Trump administration policy that resulted in the separation of children from their parents, a draft inspector general report shows.

The "zero tolerance" policy, which Sessions announced in April 2018, ultimately separated nearly 3,000 children from their parents for crossing the border illegally, which is a misdemeanor at the first offense, NBC News reports.

The New York Times first reported the details of the draft report. NBC News has reviewed the draft report, which has not been publicly released, and confirmed details in the Times story.

"We need to take away children,” Sessions told the prosecutors in a conference call, according to participants’ notes, the Times reported. One participant added in shorthand: “If care about kids, don’t bring them in. Won’t give amnesty to people with kids," the report said.

The report says that Sessions and others knew that the policy would result in family separations, and they wanted them because they believed that would deter illegal immigration, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz reportedly wrote.

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