Internal government watchdog says it can't confirm family separation numbers: report

Internal government watchdog says it can't confirm family separation numbers: report
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The Trump administration did not have adequate technology to keep track of families separated at the border, so an internal government watchdog is unable to confirm the number of families that have been separated and reunited, according to a report obtained by BuzzFeed News

According to the news outlet, the report from the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Inspector General (IG) also said Customs Border Protection (CBP) officials knew for months during the enforcement of the "zero tolerance" family separation policy about the poor reporting methods, but did not fix them. 

“The Zero Tolerance Policy was in place for only 6 weeks. Although intended to reduce the practice of ‘catch-and-release,’ the policy had the unexpected consequences of overburdening [Customs and Border Protection] and [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] resources, and over-taxing facilities for detaining migrants at the southwest border,” BuzzFeed quoted the report as saying.

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 “These conditions were exacerbated by thousands of children separated from their parents and DHS’ inability to reunify families as mandated due to poor data entry, data tracking, information sharing, and IT systems capabilities,” it reportedly continued. 

The IG report is expected to be released publicly on Wednesday.

According to BuzzFeed, the report found numerous children whose situations were not accurately recorded by CBP. 

“However, we conducted a review of DHS data during the Zero Tolerance period and identified 136 children with potential family relationships who were not accurately recorded by CBP,”  auditors said in the report. “In a broader analysis of DHS data between the dates of October 1, 2017, to February 14, 2019, we identified an additional 1,233 children with potential family relationships that were not accurately recorded by CBP.”

“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] HHS have reunified these families,” it reportedly added. 

The Trump administration last year ended its "zero tolerance" policy of separating many migrant kids from their families at the border after public outcry. The policy resulted in the separation of about 2,700 children from their parents over a six-week period. 

The Hill has reached out DHS and CBP for comment on the report obtained by BuzzFeed.