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Trump Administration Planned to Separate 26,000 Kids with No Ability to Track or Reunify Them

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DHS IG Report Probes Depths of Cruelty and Chaos Central to Trump’s Family Separation Policy

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) inspector general’s report on the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy provides chilling details about this dark chapter of recent American history while offering damning new evidence about the scope of the cruelty and chaos inherent in the Trump administration’s plans.

Released on the day before Thanksgiving – presumably to dampen its potential notice – the DHS IG report’s major findings and implications were captured well by Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff of NBC News – namely that the administration was planning to separate 26,000 children and had no plans or tracking system in place to ensure potential reunification with their families:

The internal watchdog for the Department of Homeland Security found that the Trump administration anticipated it would separate 26,000 children if the “zero tolerance” policy of 2018 had been allowed to continue, and that the agency knew it lacked the technology to track and reunite children with their parents. Officials at Customs and Border Protection, the DHS agency responsible for separating families under the May-June 2018 policy, estimated in May of that year that it would separate more than 26,000 children by September…

…CBP officials forged ahead with the policy even though they knew ahead of time that the agency lacked the proper technology to track and reunify children with their parents. “Because of these IT deficiencies, we could not confirm the total number of families DHS separated during the Zero Tolerance period,” the report said.

…The 60-page report said that CBP officials knew about the deficiencies in their data and technology system when they were planning zero tolerance, and still estimated they would separate 26,000 children without a clear plan to track and reunify them with their parents.

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

Ever since a national outcry in early summer 2018 led the Trump administration to publicly distance itself from family separation, we’ve known that their related policies and practices were shocking in their cruelty. But the DHS IG report drives home the depths of the Trump team’s depravity, underscoring that the cruelty and chaos on display was not a bug in the system, but a feature, and one designed to send a tough deterrence-only message to desperate families.  

Unfortunately, family separations by design and as a direct result of this administration’s barbaric immigration, refugee, and asylum policies continue to this day under a different name. The Trump administration has inflicted entirely predictable and avoidable trauma on children and families to the collective shame of all of us. Family separation needs to stop – now – and its architects and enablers need to be held to account for their actions, as the DHS IG report reminds us in such disturbing detail.