More Than 5,400 Children Were Separated From Their Parents by the Trump Administration, 'Shocking' New Tally Shows

The Trump administration has admitted to separating an additional 1,500 children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border under its "zero tolerance" family separation policy, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The additional numbers bring the total number of children separated from their families since July 2017 under the Trump administration up to more than 5,400.

"It is shocking that 1,556 more families—including babies and toddlers—join the thousands of others already torn apart by this inhumane and illegal policy," Lee Gelernt, the lead attorney in the family separation lawsuit and deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said in a statement shared with Newsweek.

"Families have suffered tremendously, and some may never recover," Gelernt said. "The gravity of this situation cannot be overstated."

In June 2018, the ACLU had secured a nationwide injunction blocking the Trump administration's widely-condemned "zero tolerance" policy.

With the organization demanding to know how many children had been separated from their parents, it eventually became clear that the Trump administration did not have a clear tally, with an Office of the Inspector General report released in January 2019 concluding as much.

Since then, the government had identified 2,814 children who were separated from their families, with nearly all of those children having since been reunited.

However, according to NBC, the Trump administration has also seen an additional 1,090 children separated from their families in the wake of the "zero tolerance" policy. Those children would have been separated due to exceptional circumstances, including cases in which there are concerns over a threat to the child's safety or where authorities suspect the family of being "fraudulent."

The Trump administration had faced a deadline on Friday to provide a full tally of the outstanding number of children separated early on in the Trump administration, with officials providing the 1,556 total just a day before the due date.

Earlier this week, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who oversaw the DHS's execution of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, admitted that the government's coordination in enforcing the rule had been "insufficient."

Speaking at Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women Summit, Nielsen said that while she did not "regret enforcing the law," she said: "What I do wish had worked better were the coordination and information flow [which] were simply insufficient for that number of people coming.

"It's heartbreaking that any family felt at any time that they had to cross the border illegally because it is a terrible, dangerous journey," she said.

Salvadorian mother Ana Esmeralda (R), holds her son Manuel Alexander, 2, before they were transferred to the McAllen Border Patrol facility on July 02, 2019 in Los Ebanos, Texas. The Trump administration has admitted more than 1,500 additional children were separated from their parents under its 'zero tolerance' family separation policy. John Moore/Getty