The U.S. Might Be Holding 30,000 Children Separated From Parents at the Border by August

June 18, 2018, 1:23 PM UTC

Officials at the Department of Heath and Human Services (HHS) say they could be caring for some 30,000 children by the end of August as the hard-nosed push on federal immigration laws continues.

A senior administration official at HHS tells the Washington Examiner that the division expects to take in roughly 250 children per day as border officials separate kids from parents or guardians accused of attempting to enter the country illegally. 11,500 children are reportedly already being held, which would push the number to 30,000 by August 31.

The Examiner‘s figure of 11,500, though, is considerably higher than the official tally from the Department of Homeland Security. Officials with that organization on Friday said that a total of 1,995 children were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border during a six-week period that ended last month.

The Trump administration has come under fire from both sides of the aisle for the policy that separates immigrant children from their parents when they illegally cross the border. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the plan in early May, but President Donald Trump on Friday blamed political opponents for the policy, saying Friday “the Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law and we can change it tonight.”

(White House officials have been unable to cite any part of U.S. law that requires separating children from parents. Trump, meanwhile, said on Twitter that he would not approve any changes to the immigration bill unless it fully funded his proposed wall along the Mexican border.)

Mental health authorities, meanwhile, have warned that the policy of separating children from their parents could result in a “mental health crisis,” and urged the administration to “commit to the more humane practice of housing families together pending immigration proceedings to protect them from further trauma.”