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Federal prosecutors did a dry run of family separations in Texas and found that children younger than 12 shouldn’t be taken away from their parents

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  • In 2017, federal prosecutors found that kids under 12 wouldn’t be able to find their families on their own if they were separated during a “pilot” family separation program, NBC News reported. 
  • The program took place from April to December of 2017. 
  • More than 300 families were separated in the program. 
  • In 2018, the Trump administration implemented a “zero-tolerance policy” program that separated kids as young as infants from their detained parents.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In 2017, federal prosecutors found that kids under 12 wouldn’t be able to find their families on their own if they were separated in a “pilot” program that would be a precursor to the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy,” NBC News reported.

NBC News obtained a draft of the Department of Justice’s inspector general’s investigation into the  “zero-tolerance policy,” which was rolled out in 2018 and separated thousands of children from their parents.

In the draft of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation, which is subject to change, NBC News obtained a copy of a Justice Department memo, which said that the pilot program in El Paso, Texas, found that children younger than 12 should not be separated.

The following year, President Donald Trump’s administration rolled out a program that separated kids as young as infants from their parents.

The memo about the 2017 pilot program was prepared for the US attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash, but NBC News reported, citing the IG’s draft report, it was never sent to DOJ officials in Washington, DC.

The pilot program took place from April to December of 2017, and by August of that year, the prosecutors realized that some of the children were too young to be separated, per NBC News.

More than 300 families were separated in the program, including 11 children who under one year old, 22 who were one year old, and 28 who were two years old.

“The analysis focused on whether the child was mature enough to be separated from the accompanying parent. The agents were to determine whether the child could effectively communicate where they were from, where they lived, their address, where they were going to, who they were to meet,” the memo said, according to NBC News. 

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that the draft report from the DOJ’s inspector general said that former Attorney General Jeff Session and other top Justice Department officials were “a driving force” behind President Donald Trump’s child separation policy at the US-Mexico border. 

Horowitz’s investigation into the “zero tolerance” policy said Sessions and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called for the separation of children no matter how young they were. The draft, which is being reviewed by officials, is subject to change, the newspaper said.

“We need to take away children,” Sessions reportedly told the prosecutors on a call that month.

Read the full NBC News report here »

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