Matthew Whitaker Tells Congress That There Is No Family Separation Policy

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said there was no family separation policy—just a "zero tolerance" policy.

Testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker claimed that there was no family separation policy, according to CNN.

Responding to Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal's questions about the controversial actions over this past summer, Whitaker claimed that the approach to illegal border crossing was a “zero tolerance” policy.

“I’m sorry there was no family separation policy. There was a zero tolerance policy,” he said.

The "zero tolerance" policy required the prosecution of all adults caught crossing the border illegally, regardless of whether they were accompanying children. Those traveling with children were separated.

The acting attorney general's denial of a family separation policy seems contradicted by a recently leaked memo from senior government officials indicating the Trump administration intended to separate families in an effort to deter migrants from heading to the southern U.S. border.

Whitaker is not the first administration official to deny a policy of separating children from their parents: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made the same statement last June, tweeting: "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period."

Whitaker also claimed that they were not actively tracking if adults being prosecuted were separated from their children.