Top Democrat: Trump family separations 'stained the legacy of our nation'

Top Democrat: Trump family separations 'stained the legacy of our nation'
© Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship ripped the Trump administration's immigration policy on Wednesday, following a report that officials couldn't keep track of the migrant families forcibly separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The Administration’s family separation policy has stained the legacy of our nation and will have lasting negative effects on those who were subjected to it," wrote Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenDemocrats express confidence in case as impeachment speeds forward Sunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Judiciary Democrat says House should focus on Ukraine, avoid Mueller report in articles of impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the subcommittee.

"The effect of this policy on children is particularly reprehensible and will undoubtedly leave lasting trauma for years to come," she wrote.

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Lofgren, a longtime proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, was responding to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General report that found federal agents lacked the technology to track parents and children separated because of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy.

Under zero tolerance, border officials aggressively prosecuted first-time illicit border crossings, remanding adult migrants to prosecutors and their children to the care of the state.

More than 3,000 children were separated from their parents while the policy was implemented over a six-week period in 2018. According to the report, 136 children were not "accurately recorded" by authorities during that time period.

A further 1,233 children "with potential family relationships" were "not accurately recorded" between October 2017 and February 2019.

The inspector general concluded that "without a reliable account of all family relationships, we cannot confirm that DHS has identified all family separations, and therefore, we cannot determine whether DHS and [Health and Human Services] have reunified these families," according to the report, first published by BuzzFeed News.

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“As a mother, grandmother, and American, my heart aches for these children and families. The revelations in the Inspector General’s report make clear that this heartache and suffering was entirely avoidable — and it shocks the conscience," wrote Lofgren.

The report also showed that Customs and Border Protection officials knew about the inability to record separations and minors in custody but did nothing to fix the system.

“Career officials made Customs and Border Protection (CBP) leadership aware of DHS’s inability to track family separations before the policy even went into place, and CBP leadership ignored the warnings and still chose to move forward with the family separation policy just a few months later," wrote Lofgren.