2,000 kids separated from parents under Trump border crackdown

The Trump administration separated nearly 2,000 immigrant children from parents or guardians at the border over the span of six weeks, a Department of Homeland Security official said on Friday.

The administration is under intense scrutiny over its current crackdown at the border, which is aimed at prosecuting as many people as possible for illegal entry ― even if it means splitting children from their parents.

From April 19 through May 31, border officials separated 1,995 children from 1,940 adults with whom they were traveling, a DHS official told reporters, confirming numbers first reported by The Associated Press.

President Donald Trump has claimed the family separations are not his fault, even though they are happening because of his own administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal border-crossing. Under that policy, families apprehended after crossing the border without authorization are being separated so the parents can be jailed, rather than kept together and put directly into immigration proceedings. 

RELATED: A look inside the operations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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A look inside the operations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
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A look inside the operations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (L), 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field, 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (R), 53, arrests Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. on February 9, 2017. Picture taken on February 9, 2017. Courtesy Bryan Cox/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers detain a suspect as they conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on February 7, 2017. Picture taken on February 7, 2017. Courtesy Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer helps out a few boys who are trying to make phone calls as they are joined by hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children that are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona June 18, 2014. CBP provided media tours Wednesday of two locations in Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Ross D. Franklin/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW POLITICS)
Migrants, consisting of mostly women and children, disembark from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bus at a Greyhound bus station in Phoenix, Arizona May 29, 2014. Local media reported that ICE had been releasing migrants who pose no security risk at Greyhound bus stations in Tuscon and Phoenix due to a lack of manpower, and those released have to make their own way to their declared U.S. destinations and are required to report to a local ICE office within 15 days. REUTERS/Samantha Sais (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers arrive to a Flatbush Gardens home in search of an undocumented immigrant on April 11, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officer brings an undocumented immigrant into an ICE processing center on April 11, 2018 at the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan, New York City. ICE detentions are especially controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officer interviews an immigrant at an ICE processing center after officers arrested her on April 11, 2018 inside the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan, New York City. ICE detentions are frequently controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers prepare for morning operations to arrest undocumented immigrants on April 11, 2018 in New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers look to arrest an undocumented immigrant during an operation in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 11, 2018 in New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers depart after an operation to arrest an wanted undocumented immigrant on April 11, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), security officers watch over undocumented immigrant at an ICE processing center on April 11, 2018 at the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan, New York City. ICE detentions are especially controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers arrive to a Flatbush Gardens home in search of a wanted undocumented immigrant on April 11, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York is considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
A security officer looks out of a window at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in Washington DC on October 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A police officer and a security officer look on at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office, part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in Washington DC on October 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 11: A law enforcement officer walks past ICE logo ahead of a press conference on Thursday, May 11, 2017, at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Washington, DC. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers search undocumented immigrants after detaining them in raids and bringing them to an ICE processing center on April 11, 2018 at the U.S. Federal Building in lower Manhattan, New York City. ICE detentions are especially controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 11: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers stage a raid to arrest an undocumented immigrant in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 11, 2018 in New York City. ICE detentions are frequently controversial in New York, considered a 'sanctuary city' for undocumented immigrants, and ICE receives little or no cooperation from local law enforcement. ICE said that officers arrested 225 people for violation of immigration laws during the 6-day operation, the largest in New York City in recent years. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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The Justice Department remains far from attaining the goal of universally prosecuting all illegal border crossings, though a DOJ official told reporters that the percentage of people caught crossing the border illegally who were hauled into federal court has more than doubled since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the change last month.

But regardless of whether prosecutors can take all the cases, officials insist that family members will no longer be exempted from facing criminal charges, meaning that family separations at the border will continue.

DHS and DOJ officials, who declined to comment by name on the call with reporters, accused opponents of the policy of misrepresenting the facts and of arguing for special treatment for immigrant parents. They argued that splitting families to prosecute parents for illegal entry, which is a misdemeanor for first-time offenders, is no different than jailing someone for another type of crime away from their children. 

RELATED: Faces of Trump's immigration crackdown

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Faces of Trump's immigration crackdown
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Faces of Trump's immigration crackdown
Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, waits to be processed after being taken into custody by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, has his fingerprints taken after being taken into custody by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The badge of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team is seen in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (R), 53, arrests Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, waits to be processed after being taken into custody by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (R), 53, arrests Mexican national Adalberto Magana-Gonzalez, 44, in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team takes immigration fugitives into custody in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Handcuffs lie in a box at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Fugitive Operations office in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (L), 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field (R), 53, and Field Office Director David Marin arrest an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field, 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team member arrests an Iranian immigrant in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team search for an immigration fugitive in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field, 53, arrests an Iranian immigrant in San Clemente, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Fugitive Operations team search for an immigration fugitive in Santa Ana, California, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH "NICHOLSON ARREST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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“They want illegal aliens to get better rights than U.S. citizens have,” one official said of critics.

There is no law that requires the government to separate families on the border, although Trump has repeatedly falsely claimed it is a result of laws passed by Democrats. While illegal entry is a crime, prior administrations have largely avoided prosecuting parents. This didn’t mean they avoided consequences ― they still faced deportation ― but it prevented large-scale family separation. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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