Amid the mounting pressure from both sides of the aisle, the Trump administration rescinded the malicious “zero-tolerance” policy and then scrambled to fix the confusion and humanitarian crisis it created for hundreds of undocumented migrant families.
However, the hurried executive order did nothing for more than 2,300 children already taken from parents who were awaiting prosecution. Neither could it possibly reverse the trauma the migrant families were put through for so many months.
According to an unreleased report from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) watchdog, the cruel family separation policy was characterized by numerous shortcomings since the very beginning.
The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, detailed the loopholes, widespread communication failures and administrative indifference to the separation of minors from their parents.
For instance, at least 860 migrant children were held in Border Patrol holding cellslonger than the 72-hour limit mandated by the federal courts. In fact, one minor was reportedly confined for 12 days and another for 25.
The report also revealed many children were held in “chain-link holding pens” in the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas. The facilities, which were reportedly meant to be temporary shelters, lacked beds and showers.
Similarly, according to the report, the U.S. border officials in the Rio Grande Valley sector held more than 500 children for far longer than they were supposed to.
The already distraught migrant parents were shoved further into confusion when the administration reportedly failed to provide documents that contained information about the kids’ whereabouts.
“Each step of this manual process is vulnerable to human error, increasing the risk that a child could become lost in the system,” the report found.
It further shed light on how the border agents apparently had no regard even for the kids who were too young to communicate properly.
“Border Patrol does not provide pre-verbal children with wrist bracelets or other means of identification, nor does Border Patrol fingerprint or photograph most children during processing to ensure that they can be easily linked with the proper file,” the report added.
Such actions are just an indicative of how the administration, without having any effective plan, haphazardly executed its contentious policy and subsequently jeopardized so many migrant families.
Despite reports suggesting otherwise, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection insisted “the safety and well-being of unaccompanied alien children is our highest responsibility.”
“It is a priority of our agency to process and transfer all individuals in our custody to the appropriate longer-term detention agency as soon as possible,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which includes Border Patrol, said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of unaccompanied alien children.?.?. is our highest responsibility, and we work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement to ensure the timely and secure transfer of all unaccompanied minors in our custody as soon as placement is available from HHS.”
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