The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that calls for all migrants caught crossing the border for the first time to be charged with illegal entry ends up systematically separating families because children can’t go with their parents who are being detained by the US Marshals.

But people charged with illegal entry go before a judge within days or weeks of their detention and are usually sentenced to time served for the misdemeanor. There appears to be no set procedure for what happens with parent and child after that.

It can take months or more than a year after the illegal entry charge is resolved. That involves coordinating with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency that assumes custody of children separated from their parents.