Outrage continues to grow over 2000 migrant children being separated from their parents once they reach the U.S. border under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and an ex-director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says that the separations may be permanent.

“Permanent Separation. It happens,” John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE under President Obama told NBC News.

The Trump administration claims that the separations are only temporary.

“We have come to understand that these families who are separated, it is for a limited period of time between five to ten days,” White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp told Fox News on Tuesday.

Due to courts prioritizing adult deportations over a child’s it may take years for kids to be reunited with their parents, according to NBC News.

“You could easily end up in a situation where the gap between a parent’s deportation and a child’s deportation is years,” he said.

The long process can lead to many kids being placed into the U.S. foster care system where they may eventually get adopted, while their parents are sent back to their home country without a way to find their kids due to not understanding the complexities of the U.S. legal system.

“You could be creating thousands of immigrant orphans in the U.S. that one day could become eligible for citizenship when they are adopted,” Sandweg said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the policy change in April in part of the administration’s hardline approach to immigration.

“If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said on June 11. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

ICE spokeswoman Liz Johnson refuted Sandweg’s claim about permanent separations, telling NBC, “A parent who is ordered removed may request that his or her minor child accompany them. If the parent chooses to have his or her child accompany him or her, ICE accommodates, to the extent practicable, the parent’s efforts to make provisions for their children.”