Reports today revealed that a policy of intentional cruelty led U.S. border officials to expel children without due process more than 13,000 times during the Trump Administration. In response, Bruce Lesley, executive director of First Focus on Children, released the following statement: 

“Time and time again, this administration has shown its complete disregard, if not outright animosity, toward immigrant children. A House Judiciary report released today found that less than a month after taking office, this administration plotted to steal children from their parents. They did so without a single thought to the trauma it would inflict on families and with no plan to reunite families. To this day, 545 children remain lost to their parents.

Family separation was among the earliest policies inflicting intentional harm on children, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Family separations continue, under the Remain in Mexico policy — a “Sophie’s Choice” presented to parents in family detention — and by expulsion at the border. The Administration has turned back more than 13,000 unaccompanied children at our southern border, according to a report today in Buzzfeed News. That’s 13,000 young lives, seeking safety, whose rights under law were violated outright with no questions asked.

Each and every one of us has an opportunity and an obligation to uplift the voices of these children. We need to send a clear message to our nation’s leaders that the best interests of the child should always be the standard by which we treat children and that cruelty can never, ever be the point of any policy that impacts children.”