Justice Department leaders under President Donald Trump knew their 2018 “ zero tolerance ” border policy would lead to family separations, but continued their lawsuits even as other agencies were swamped with migrants, according to one government monitoring report released Thursday.
The Justice Department’s Inspector General’s report found that leaders failed to prepare to implement the policy or deal with the fallout, resulting in more than 3,000 family separations and causing damage lasting emotional effects to children who were taken from their parents at the border. The policy has been widely condemned by world leaders, religious groups and lawmakers in the United States as cruel.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with other senior officials in the Trump administration, were determined to curb immigration. The “zero tolerance” policy was one of several increasingly restrictive policies aimed at discouraging migrants from traveling to the southern border. The Trump administration has also dramatically reduced the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States and virtually suspended asylum at the border, thanks to a combination of executive orders and regulatory changes.
President-elect Joe Biden has said Trump’s restrictive immigration policies are bad, but it’s unclear what he will do when he takes office to change the system.
The United States Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit to end the separations and a federal judge has ordered family reunification, but some still have not.
LISTEN | What the officials knew:
The flow23:53Jacob Soboroff on Separated Families on the US Border
Lawyer Lee Gelernt, who has worked on the matter for years, said the practice was “immoral and illegal”.
“At a minimum, DOJ attorneys should have known about the latter. This new report shows just how far the Trump administration was prepared to go to destroy these families. Just when you think the Trump administration can’t not sink lower, it does. “
The “zero tolerance” policy meant that any adult caught crossing the border illegally would be prosecuted for illegal entry. As children cannot be imprisoned with their family members, families have been separated and children have been taken into custody by the health and social services, which deal with unaccompanied children at the border. Politics was a colossal mess; no system has been created to reunite children with their families. The surveillance report found that without additional resources, the zero tolerance policy would have led to a US funding shortfall of $ 227 million in its first year and a shortage of a thousand beds.
According to the report, department heads underestimated how difficult it would be to implement the policy on the ground and failed to inform local prosecutors and others that the children would be separated. They also didn’t understand that the children would be separated for more than a few hours, and when that was discovered, they continued.
These families deserve citizenship, care and a commitment so that family separation will never happen again.
Read the report here: https: // t .co / fVCUIQi5FR
The damning report of the Inspector General of Health follows
The policy began on April 6, 2018, under an executive order that was issued without warning to other federal agencies that would have to manage the policy, including the US Marshals Service and Health and Human Services. It was interrupted on June 20, 2018.
The surveillance report found that judges, advocacy groups and even federal prosecutors had expressed concerns about the policy. But Sessions and others mistakenly believed that the arrests at the border would not result in prolonged separation and ignored the difficulty of reuniting families.
Justice leaders looked at a smaller version of the policy adopted in 2017 in West Texas, but ignored some of the same concerns raised by judges and prosecutors at the time. Key leaders were only focused on increasing illegal activity and did not seek information that would show concerns about the resulting family separations.
The report follows other scathing investigations into the policy, adding to evidence that Trump administration officials knew that a zero-tolerance policy would lead to family separations and inflict trauma on immigrant parents and children.
Reaction from Democrat Bennie Thompson:
A monitoring report from the Department of Health and Human Services found that children separated at the border, many of whom were already grieved by their life in their home country or by their journey, showed more fear, feeling of d abandonment and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder than children who were not separated. The chaotic reunification process only added to their ordeal.
In an email from November 2017, a senior health and human services official wrote that there was a shortage of “cots for babies” due to apparent separations in and around El Paso, Texas. months before the start of national politics. Other emails suggest the Department of Homeland Security failed to notify HHS officials of the pilot program, even as government juvenile facilities run by HHS saw an increase in the number of children who had been abducted to their parents. The emails were published by Congressional Democrats in an October 2020 report.
And nearly three years after the Trump administration adopted zero tolerance, more than 600 parents separated from their children have still not been found by a group of outside lawyers working to reunite the families, according to a court file filed. Wednesday.