Let's start with some background information first:
What's going on? Since April 19, at least 2,342 children have been taken from adults at the US–Mexico border, according to the Department of Homeland Security. We say "at least" because that figure represents how many children were separated from their families between May 5 and June 9, DHS said June 19.
Why is this happening now? In April, the Trump administration — specifically, Attorney General Jeff Sessions — introduced a new “zero tolerance” policy that would charge all people caught crossing the border illegally.
So everyone caught would be prosecuted? Correct. Because parents traveling with children are now facing federal charges, the new policy ends up systematically separating them from their children. The administration has given conflicting information this week on whether that's still true.
So people weren’t charged under the old system? It's a federal misdemeanor to cross the border illegally, but in the past, most first-time offenders were not charged.
Were children separated from their families before the "zero tolerance" policy was introduced in April? There's evidence that this was already happening before Trump, but not on this scale. A March 2017 report found federal agents were separating families at the border, often regardless of humanitarian concerns. However, they used it as a form of punishment, not as a formal policy.
What’s the effect on these children? BuzzFeed News spoke to experts who told us children forcibly removed from their parents will likely face long-term trauma.