Attorney General Jeff Sessions escalated criminal prosecutions for people crossing the border illegally, including enacting a zero tolerance policy that will see even more parents jailed and separated from their children, NBC News reported this week.
The new prosecution strategy went into effect this month, the report found, reversing precedent that families would remain together in shelters while undergoing asylum or deportation proceedings. Sessions' policy extends to misdemeanor charges for first-time improper entry, according to the report.
The prosecution tactic is expected to compound an existing problem: Federal officials are losing track of migrant children in the U.S. foster care system, The Associated Press reported last month. While parents are jailed, children are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The children are then designated as "unaccompanied minors," AP reported, and the government tries to connect them to family members who are already in the United States.