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Here's what you need to know about the 'zero tolerance' policy separating migrant families

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - About 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents since the Trump administration announced its "zero tolerance" policy in April.

The practice of separating children from their parents has been touted by the administration as an amplified effort to deter migrants from entering the U.S. illegally and has gained global attention, including a plea from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to "immediately halt" the practice.

What is the policy?

In April, the Trump administration directed U.S. Attorney's Offices along the southwest border to criminally prosecute adult migrants for entering the country illegally.

In the past illegal entry has been handled as a civil matter.

June 18: Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen denies policy separates families at border

June 17: What Melania Trump, past first ladies have to say on 'zero tolerance' immigration policy

Criminally prosecuting adults with their children has resulted in the separation of families, mostly because children cannot be held in a detention facility with their parents.

The practice of separating children from their parents has been touted by the Trump administration as an amplified effort to deter migrants from entering the country illegally.

"If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in March. "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border."

June 17: Separation of immigrant families draws lawmakers, advocates to the border on Father's Day

June 17: Father's Day detention: Immigrant's family pleads for release

How many families have been separated?

Since the "zero tolerance" policy was announced at least 1,995 children have been separated from 1,940 adults.

What happens to the children?

Despite children being accompanied by their parents when they entered the country, children who are separated from their parents are being housed at shelters for unaccompanied children.

Unaccompanied immigrant children have been held in detention facilities across the U.S. since before the 1990s.

June 17: Democratic lawmakers visit with dads separated from children at detention center

June 15: Sessions cites Bible verse to defend Trump's immigration policy, raises Christians' ire

The Office of Refugee Resettlement is the agency under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for the children. They award contracts to licensed child-care providers to house them.

Southwest Key Programs, a company that recently made headlines after an Oregon senator was denied entry at one of its facilities in Brownsville, Texas, is one of the largest operators in Texas. The company operates 16 of the 35 shelters that contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Follow Beatriz Alvarado on Twitter: @CallerBetty

June 15: Will GOP immigration bill stop family separations at border? Critics say no

June 15: 'Abhorrent': Texas officials, advocates decry placing immigrant children in tent cities

June 15: Department of Homeland Security: Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from adults at the U.S. border

June 14: Citing Bible, Trump administration digs in on 'zero tolerance' immigration policy

June 13: Military bases eyed for temporary shelter for growing number of migrant children

June 10: 'Why are you taking him?': Trauma lingers from 'zero tolerance' immigration policy that separates parents, kids

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