U.S. Attorney shares the reason why thousands of immigrant children are separated from their families

Mitchell Epner

Mitch Epner was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office between 2001-2004. He joins The Matt Bubala Show to talk about the issue with immigration and what changed to create this crisis.

Epner has been dealing with immigration issues for about 20 years in New Jersey, where there’s a large immigrant community and airport.

Since 2014, Epner says that President Trump’s administration went to a zero tolerance policy.  His administration started “prosecuting everyone if they didn’t go through designated port of entries. The decision was done with the intended effect to make their lives as miserable as possible for any family seeking asylum.” For example, Epner says “if a family tries to cross for weeks on the Mexican border through a non-designated port, the adults get prosecuted. Since we don’t put kids in jail, the adults are criminally charged with some form of detention and that’s how the kids get separated.  Previously, there was an emphasis on immigrants for crossing after they had been deported for aggravated felony or convicted of some violent crime. Epner says that 300 thousand people are getting prosecuted for entry with no prior record and thousands and thousands of children are getting ripped away from families. The idea started off as a humane policy, but “this created a crisis because it overwhelmed the system,” Epner says.

Epner also discusses the issue of prosecution with gangs. He explains that nothing is going to be perfect, it’s a matter of figuring out what problems to live and not to live with. “There are a lot of things in the last three months where poeple are saying we can’t do these things and still be America.”

For more information on Epner’s work, visit his private law firm, Rottenberg Lipman Rich or check out his commentary piece.