To separate children from their parents violates a basic norm of humanity and should rarely if ever be tolerated in law or practice. It is therefore as heartless as it is breathtaking that, by taking a series of executive decisions based on a campaign promise to crack down on unauthorised migration, the administration of President Donald Trump set about willfully ripping families apart. It was in April that US attorney-general Jeff Sessions announced a "zero tolerance" policy in which all border crossings would be prosecuted in criminal court. This led to families being separated as parents were sent to a federal jail or prison, while children, who cannot legally be held in federal criminal detention, were referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). In the face of tremendous public outcry about family separations, Trump signed an executive order to end the practice on June 20. Still, it remained to be decided what would happen to the 2,654 children who had been separated f...

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