The Trump administration was separating immigrant children from their parents long before the official introduction of its “zero-tolerance” policy, according to Department of Homeland Security figures obtained by NBC News. Officials say at least 2,342 children were separated from their parents at the border since May 5, when the Trump administration’s harsher restrictions formally went into effect. But new numbers show that an additional 1,768 children were separated from their parents between October 2016 and February 2018, bringing the total number of separated kids to more than 4,100. NBC reports that more than 1,000 children were separated between October 2016 and September 2017, and a further 703 were separated between October 2017 and February 2018. It’s not clear exactly how many the children were separated after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, but 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.
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