From May 5 to June 9, 2,342 children were separated from their mothers and fathers as a result of Trump zero tolerance policy at the southern border


Boston (June 22, 2018) – As questions mount about the location of children separated from their parents at the southern border as a result of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today called for more information on whether separated children and their families are being held in Massachusetts. In his letter to the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, Senator Markey highlights that the new executive order does not rescind the zero tolerance policy and, in fact, could lead to children being incarcerated with their parents in criminal custody. The executive order also provides no information on how separated families will be reunited.


“According to media reports, hundreds of migrant children who were forcibly separated from their parents at the border were transferred to facilities – some as far away New York – for shelter,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to Secretaries Kirstjen Nielsen and Alex Azar. “Unaccompanied minor facilities are operated throughout the United States, though it is unclear to which of these facilities children detained as a result of the ‘zero tolerance policy’ have been sent. It is also unclear what processes and standards are in place to keep track of children and the family from which they have been separated, further complicating any future reunification efforts.”


A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE.


In his letter, Senator Markey asks for responses to questions that include:

  • Were any children who were separated from their parents under the zero tolerance policy ever held in facilities or released to a sponsor in Massachusetts?
  • Were any parents who were referred to federal prosecution under the zero tolerance policy at any point held in detention facilities in Massachusetts?
  • Are there any facilities in Massachusetts that the Secretary of Defense intends to make available to Homeland Security under the executive order to incarcerate family units?
  • How does this administration plan to reunite families that were separated under the zero tolerance policy?


Today, Senator Markey held a press conference at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center with medical and health professionals to discuss the impacts of family separation on children at the southern border. The groups discussed how the Trump family separation policy is not only compounding the anxiety and hardship these children have already experienced but are potentially setting them up for a lifetime of adverse health outcomes, including an increased risk of mental illness, substance use disorders, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.