President Trump‘s widely-criticized “zero-tolerance” immigration policy resulted in U.S. Border Patrol holding hundreds of children longer than they were supposed to, often in holding pens without beds or showers, according to a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) watchdog report obtained by The Washington Post.
The report also notes that federal agencies had a difficult time tracking the minors who had been separated from their parents at the border.
The policy, which the Trump administration approved in May and halted by executive order in June, created widespread miscommunication and confusion among various federal agencies, the DHS inspector general wrote in an unpublished report obtained by the Post.
Though Border Patrol is only supposed to hold children for 72 hours, officials in the Rio Grande and El Paso sectors held a total of more than 800 children for far longer, with some children stuck in detainment for more than 20 days, according to the watchdog report.
DHS in a Sept. 14 response to the inspector general’s report acknowledged agents “sometimes” held children beyond the 72-hour limit.
The inspector general also reported it could not find a “central database” with information on separated children and parents, though the department said they had created one, the Post reported.
“The [inspector general’s] team asked several [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] employees, including those involved with DHS’ reunification efforts at ICE Headquarters, if they knew of such a database, and they did not,” the report states, according to the Post. “DHS has since acknowledged to the OIG that there is no ‘direct electronic interface’ between DHS and HHS tracking systems.”
The report details multiple instances in which federal agencies struggled to keep track of minors who had been separated from their parents at the border.
The “zero-tolerance” immigration policy set off a political firestorm over the summer when reports emerged that the policy had resulted in the separation of more than 2,500 children from their parents at the border.
More than 100 children remain in federal custody, according to the Post.
BY EMILY BIRNBAUM – 10/02/18