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November 27, 2019

Thompson Statement on DHS Watchdog Child Separation Report

DHS had no system to track separated families and had no plan to reunite but went forward with policy anyway

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report out today on the technology and planning failures impacting family separation.  Before the “zero-tolerance” policy was implemented in 2018, both CBP and ICE knew that their IT systems were completely inadequate to track separated families. They also knew they needed a plan on how to reunite families.

These deficiencies, as well as a lack of guidance to the field on policy implementation, resulted in incomplete and erroneous data on apprehended migrants and family separations. When the court ordered families to be reunited, the data had to be manually reviewed and analyzed, slowing reunifications, sometimes taking hours to process a single family reunification. This also led to thousands of hours in overtime and agents taken off the frontline.

“If there was any doubt, the Inspector General’s report provides further proof the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy was intended to inflict cruelty on asylum seekers. DHS separated children from their parents knowing they had no system to track them and no plan to reunify them. The Administration bungled implementation so badly the Inspector General still cannot verify whether more children were separated than reported or if they have been reunited. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of man-hours were wasted on separating families rather than further securing the border and facilitating cross-border travel and trade. The Trump Administration has had one failed border policy after another, but family separation stands out as a continual disaster.”

Link to report

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