Rod Rosenstein Told US Attorneys There Was No Minimum Age For Child Separations
The Guardian reported in July that former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told U.S. attorneys that there could be no blanket ban on prosecuting migrant parents with children under the age of five, meaning there was no minimum age for separating children from their families.
The comments on a conference call in May 2018 privately shocked some border state prosecutors because, in effect, it meant that no child was too young to be separated from its parents under the policy, which called for all migrants entering the US illegally to face criminal prosecution.
The family separations that followed are seen today by experts as one of the gravest domestic human rights violations to have occurred under the Trump administration.
The policy was in place for six weeks and resulted in the separation of 2,814 children from their parents and guardians, about 105 of whom were under the age of five and 1,033 under 10.
The Guardian reported that Rosenstein’s guidance came about two weeks after then Attorney General Jeff Sessions “issued an order that there would be an ‘escalated effort’ to prosecute all illegal entries into the US along the southern border, according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke to the Guardian under the condition of anonymity.”
On the call, one US attorney, John Bash of the western district of Texas, said he had declined to prosecute several cases that had been referred to him by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that involved children under the age of five.
In response, sources familiar with the matter said Rosenstein told the US attorneys that they could not decline to prosecute cases based on the age of the children who would be separated from their parents because there was “no categorical exemption” under the order.