Chief border patrol agent says many migrant children are 'hardened adults' who 'have been working for years'

  • Chief border patrol agent Rodney Scott said that many of the children separated from their parents at the border and placed in government custody are “hardened adults.”
  • Scott said teenagers as young as 14 years old are recognised as adults in other countries, and often have been “working for years.”
  • The Trump administration has come under fire from both sides of the aisle for the controversial “zero-tolerance” border separations policy.

A chief border patrol agent in San Diego justified the Department of Justice’s controversial practice of separating families who cross the southern border of the US illegally by asserting that many of the children taken from their parents and placed in government custody are not even children at all.

Speaking to Politico on Monday, agent Rodney Scott stated, “I would like to remind people too, what we look at as a child in the United States and say ‘oh that 14 year-old young man,’ that’s an adult in a lot of other countries, that kid’s been working for years, may or may not have been associated with the gangs.”

It was not clear which countries Scott was referring to. There are no Latin or Central American nations which legally recognise people under 18 years old as adults. The few countries in which the age of majority is under 18 are located in Asia and the Middle East.

In discussing the media coverage of the border separations, Scott said, “People get the picture in their head that it’s the kid who lives next door to you and it’s not. Some of these kids are hardened adults.”

The Trump administration is struggling to defend its “zero-tolerance” policy of separating families at the border and placing children in shelters. Several key Republican leaders have broken with Trump and publicly denounced the policy as cruel.

While President Donald Trump has consistently decried the policy and claimed it was result of legislation passed by Democrats, even though no such legislation exists, both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House adviser Stephen Miller have not only defended it, but identified themselves as the architects of the policy.

Earlier on Monday at a law enforcement conference, Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen stated her department would “not apologise” for the separations and said, “It is important to know that these minors are very well taken care of.” Just a day earlier, Nielsen denied the very existence of the policy on Twitter.

Data from the Department of Homeland Security shows that almost 2,000 children were separated from their parents and put in government custody in a six-week period between April 19 and May 31.

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