Family separation on the border only occurs under one of the following conditions: 1) If a migrant adult falsely claims to be a parent, or 2) is a threat to the child, or 3) is charged with a crime, such as illegal entry.
The Obama administration did separate families, sometimes by thousands of miles by deporting male migrants a long distance from their point of entry under the Alien Transfer Exit Program.
In contrast, the Trump administration hasn’t changed the rules, except perhaps by not separating families by thousands of miles – and by not giving “free passes” for illegal border crossing.
During the Obama administration, migrants who claimed to be with their family weren’t criminally prosecuted, and this ultimately led to child trafficking as more migrants crossed the border with kids they falsely claimed as their children.
According to a May 28 article from the National Review:
The past practice had been to give a free pass to an adult who is part of a family unit. The new Trump policy is to prosecute all adults. The idea is to send a signal that we are serious about our laws and to create a deterrent against re-entry. (Illegal entry is a misdemeanor, illegal re-entry a felony.)
Furthermore, the process of “separating families” when the head of the household is charged with a crime is nothing new under US law. Children are not thrown into a jail cell with their father if he’s charged with a crime.
This is true with just about any law on the state or federal level.
Now, concerning immigration, when a migrant is charged with illegal entry, US Marshals take him into custody.
Children that accompanied him across the border are then taken into the temporary custody of Health and Human Services and its contractors at shelters such as this one:
Again, according to the National Review, which is worth reading in full:
There is a significant moral cost to not enforcing the border. There is obviously a moral cost to separating a parent from a child and almost everyone would prefer not to do it. But, under current policy and with the current resources, the only practical alternative is letting family units who show up at the border live in the country for the duration. Not only does this make a mockery of our laws, it creates an incentive for people to keep bringing children with them.
In short, the Trump administration hasn’t really changed the rules used by the Obama administration, with the exception of not giving any more “free passes” that encouraged illegal border crossing – and possibly the exception of not separating families by thousands of miles.
Thus, the mainstream media outrage against President Trump must be motivated by two things: 1) Belief that uncontrolled border crossings shouldn’t be illegal and 2) Bias against Trump.