US: Report says thousands more migrant kids separated

American agency finds thousands more migrant children separated under Trump prior to 'zero tolerance' immigration policy

US: Report says thousands more migrant kids separated File Photo

By Umar Farooq


Thousands more migrant children were separated from their parents under U.S. President Donald Trump immigration policy than previously thought, according to a new report published Thursday.

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) detailed the surge in migrant family separation came at the start of the summer of 2017 -- a year before the government initiated the "zero tolerance" policy which separately prosecuted migrant parents crossing the border illegally from their children, who were held in detention by the HSS.

After a lawsuit was filed on behalf of separated families, a federal court ordered the reunification of the families. Trump ended the zero tolerance policy with an executive order in June 2018.

However, there was no order to reunify any families that had been separated prior to the policy.

While HSS was not able to give a concrete number of how many children had been separated during that time period, they estimated the number to be in the thousands after interviewing senior leadership and officials within the agency.

Part of the problem is that when the agency released children from custody, they did not track whether they had originally crossed into the U.S. alone or with a parent.

"Thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the Court, and HHS has faced challenges in identifying separated children," the report said.

HHS still continues to receive and detain migrant children who have been separated from their families. Between July 1 and Nov. 7, the agency received 118 children that had been identified as separated from their parents, but were provided limited reasons for those separations.

The total number and the current status of all migrant children separated from their parents or guardians is unknown, according to the HSS.

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