As the Trump administration deals with a dramatic increase in the number of child immigration cases, most of which are in a backlog of 8,378 pending cases spanning more than three years, a new zero-tolerance immigration policy imposed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions could cause this backlog to grow even more.
Sessions announced the policy shift in May, which would require Border Patrol agents to hand over all undocumented immigrants caught crossing the border to the Department of Justice for prosecution. This new policy also means that thousands of unaccompanied child aliens (UACs) will have to be separated from their parents as the latter go through the criminal justice system.
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border,” Sessions said at a conference last month.