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Photo by Chris Boese on Unsplash

Thousands of children and parents were forcibly separated while seeking asylum in 2017 and 2018.

The United States espouses noble ideals and has worked for more than two centuries to make its way toward them. It's always been an uneven process, however, and sometimes we stumble—or get violently shoved—backward.

The "zero tolerance" policy for handling migrant families was one of those times. The policy, unofficially piloted by the Trump administration in 2017 and officially enacted in May of 2018, forced children and parents to be separated instead of being detained together while awaiting asylum decisions.

During those two years, thousands of migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border were taken from their families with no notice, sometimes torn straight from the parents' arms, and sent away to unknown locations around the country. Thousands of parents and caregivers were deported with no idea where their children were or if they'd ever see them again. Some were toddlers and preschoolers. We read horror stories of children screaming while being taken away, their parents frantic but helpless to do anything about it.

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