The Office of Refugee Resettlement’s public numbers however show that nearly 200,000 children were referred by the DHS between fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2016.
DHS told TheDC it does not keep specific data from this period on the number of children separated from their families as a result of the Obama administration’s policy, but the data bolsters a claim made by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Monday. Nielsen insisted to reporters at the White House that both the Obama and Bush administrations separated families at the border.
The Trump administration has defended the policy, noting that the only other option they have is to schedule an immigration court date and release the entire family unit into the interior. The practice, known as “catch and release,” has resulted in the release of nearly 500,000 illegal immigrants from Central America into the U.S. interior. U.S. authorities do not actively track illegals once they have been released.
Family separation in particular has been heavily scrutinized by the U.S. press in recent days with particular focus on the detention conditions of children.