DHS watchdog finds flaws from beginning in Trump 'zero-tolerance' policy: report

DHS watchdog finds flaws from beginning in Trump 'zero-tolerance' policy: report
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times George Conway: Why take Trump's word over prosecutors' if he 'lies about virtually everything' Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed MORE'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created widespread miscommunication and confusion among various federal agencies, the DHS inspector general wrote in an unpublished report obtained by the Post.

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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 [Department of Health and Human Services] 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 findings of [inspector general's] report illustrate the difficulties in enforcing immigration laws that are broken and poorly written," DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman said in a statement to The Hill. "This administration will no longer turn a blind eye to illegal immigration and will continue to refer illegal border crossers for prosecution."

"We are committed to enforcing the rule of law and ensuring that there are consequences for illegal actions,” Waldman added.

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.

Updated at 3:22 p.m.