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March 05, 2020

Thompson Statement on HHS Inspector General Family Separation Report

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report on the Administration’s implementation of its family separation policy.  The report found that interagency communication failures and poor internal management decisions left HHS unprepared for the zero-tolerance policy. This lack of preparation impeded HHS’s ability to identify, care for, and reunify separated children.  Additionally, care facilities faced significant challenges at every stage of reunification, causing additional stress to children.

“This report again confirms what we have known for quite some time.  The way this Administration has treated immigrants and their families since its first days has been horrific.  Not only did the Administration act with malice when it instituted its family separation policy, but DHS and HHS managed it so poorly that it led to massive interagency communication failures and poor management decisions. 

“Unfortunately, children in the Federal government’s care paid the price.  While there is plenty of blame to go around, DHS is at fault for not informing HHS it was implementing a new policy that should have involved significant planning. In addition, the Administration’s incompetence delayed family reunifications and hindered the care of children. This worsened their anxiety which will likely have permanent effects on their mental health. 

“It should be alarming to the American people that, nearly two years later, there are still an unknown number of children separated from their families.  Worse yet, the Administration seems unwilling or unable to fix remaining problems.”

Link to Report

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