The government was separating migrant parents from their kids for months prior to the official introduction of zero tolerance [in May], running what a U.S. official called a “pilot program” for widespread prosecutions in Texas, but apparently did not create a clear system for parents to track or reunite with their kids…
[A] DHS official also confirmed to NBC that, from July 2017 to October 2017, the Trump administration ran what the official called a “pilot program” for zero tolerance in El Paso.
Court records and interviews with migrants show that during that period federal prosecutors began to criminally charge any adult who crossed the border unlawfully in the El Paso sector, which spans from New Mexico to West Texas. Parents arriving with young children were not exempt.
“This was happening in El Paso before it was news,” said Linda Rivas, executive director of Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center. “People didn’t believe it…”
Even those families who crossed the border hoping for asylum were caught up in the El Paso experiment. A mother named Jocelyn, whom Rivas represents, was apprehended crossing with her son last August near El Paso. Although Jocelyn said she sought asylum, she was prosecuted for illegal entry, court documents show. Her son was taken from her