NYT: Justice Dept. Officials Were ‘Driving Force’ Behind Child Separations


A draft report from the DOJ's inspector general reveals that top officials were driving Trump's child separation policy.

Top officials at the Justice Department were “a driving force” behind President Trump’s 2018 child separation policy, according to a draft report from the DOJ’s inspector general reviewed by The New York Times.

  • The draft report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s two-year investigation implicates former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as key players.
  • After several U.S. attorneys along the southern border recoiled against the DOJ’s order to prosecute all undocumented immigrants, citing concerns about children, Sessions reportedly said: “We need to take away children.”

Rod J. Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general, went even further in a second call about a week later, telling the five prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were. He said that government lawyers should not have refused to prosecute two cases simply because the children were barely more than infants.


“It is the hope that this separation will act as a deterrent to parents bringing their children into the harsh circumstances that are present when trying to enter the United States illegally,” a Border Patrol official wrote on Oct. 28, 2017, to the U.S. attorney in New Mexico, according to the draft report.

  • The draft report calls top DOJ officials “a driving force” behind the policy that saw thousands of families separated, many of whom sought asylum in the U.S. after fleeing violence in Central America.
  • The Times said the report newly reveals that “Border Patrol officers missed serious felony cases because they were stretched too thin by the zero-tolerance policy requiring them to detain and prosecute all of the misdemeanor illegal entry cases.”
  • Also revealed is that “Senior Justice Department officials viewed the welfare of the children as the responsibility of other agencies and their duty as tracking the parents," the newspaper wrote.
  • DOJ spokesperson Alexa Vance told The Times that the draft report “contains numerous factual errors and inaccuracies,” adding that the DOJ “had no role in tracking or providing custodial care to the children of defendants.”

Read the full report.


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