Watchdog Report: May Never Know How Many Children Were Separated

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March 18, 2020 (WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Chair of the Judiciary Committee Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee, released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report they requested on the implementation of the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy - which resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the Southwest Border.  

The report found that that we may never have a full accounting of how many children were or remain separated.  GAO found that DHS personnel “have not accurately and consistently recorded family units and separations”—and such record keeping failures continued even after the zero tolerance policy ended.  After reviewing a small sample of cases, GAO found a staggering 60 percent of the family separations examined in the sample were not correctly documented per Border Patrol’s own policy.  GAO warned, “it is unclear whether Border Patrol has accurate records of all separated parents and children.” 

Chairs Thompson and Lofgren released the following statement on the report:

“It’s pretty damning that we may never have a full accounting of how many children were or remain separated – and that Border Patrol still may not be properly tracking families.  Not only was this Administration’s family separation policy heartless – they bungled its implementation at every turn.  The Acting DHS Secretary claims no children have been lost – but is withholding documents on this matter from Congress.  It’s time for the Administration to come clean and provide these so we can get a full accounting of this policy.”

Link to report

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Media contact: 

(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978

(Lofgren) Ally Kehoe