Although the forced separation of children from parents in the custody of U.S. immigration officials is not yet a policy, it's already a practice along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to eight human rights groups that filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security.
Officials with the Trump administration have said they're considering a policy of separating families in detention to discourage immigrants and asylum seekers from coming to the U.S., according to The New York Times and The Washington Post. Under the Obama administration, families who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum were often released on parole with a notice to appear in immigration court.
KPBS has been following the case of a 1-year-old boy from El Salvador who was separated from his father, Jose Demar Fuentes, last November. His case is cited in the complaint, which describes "an alarming increase in family units being forcibly divided," and said the practice "is so fundamentally unconscionable it defies countless international and domestic laws on child welfare, human rights and refugees."
The American Immigration Council, the Women's Refugee Commission, Al Otro Lado and other organizations filed the complaint in December with the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and the Acting Inspector General, which provide oversight for the agency.