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House Report - Trump's Family Separation Policy: Trauma, Destruction and Chaos

October 29, 2020 (4 min read)

House Judiciary Committee, Oct. 29, 2020

"Today, the House Judiciary Committee released the findings of its 21-month investigation into the development and execution of the Trump Administration’s family separation policy, which resulted in more than 2,500 migrant children becoming unnecessarily separated from their parents.

The report, entitled “The Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy: Trauma, Destruction, and Chaos,” provides the first complete narrative of the inhumane family separation policy, in the Administration’s own words. The investigation revealed the Trump Administration’s family separation policy lasted far longer than is commonly known and was marked by reckless incompetence and intentional cruelty. Worse still, administration officials knew that the government lacked the capacity to track separated family members and moved forward with separations anyway. As a result, efforts to reunify separated children continue to this day.

“The Committee’s report makes clear that Trump Administration was willing to go to extreme lengths, including ripping young children and children with disabilities from the arms of their parents, to stop migrants fleeing violence from seeking protection in the United States,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Immigration Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) in a joint statement. “Now, more than year since the end of this cruel policy, the Trump Administration has failed to reunite hundreds of children with their families. The incompetence is unforgiveable. As we move forward, we need a whole of government approach to reunite these families and put an end to this dark chapter in our nation’s history.”

The Committee’s report draws the following conclusions:

  • Within weeks of President Trump’s inauguration, the Administration began formulating a plan to separate parents from their children as a means to deter migration.
  • Before a formal policy had even been developed, the Administration was accelerating family separations. By March 2017, the number of separated children transferred to ORR custody had increased by nearly 900 percent, as compared to November 2016.
  • In July 2017, without warning, the Administration implemented a family separation pilot program in the El Paso Border Patrol Sector. The pilot program lasted five months and resulted in hundreds of additional children being taken from their parents and placed in ORR custody.
  • During the pilot program, the Administration discovered that it was unable to track separated family members in a way that would facilitate eventual reunification.
  • Knowing this, and without doing anything to address the tracking systems employed by federal agencies, the Administration chose to expand the policy nationwide in May 2018.
  • To make matters worse, the Administration failed to provide advance notice of the policy to front line agents and officers, which caused unnecessary chaos and inconsistent implementation of the policy across border sectors.
  • When judicial intervention and political pressure eventually resulted in the end of the policy, the lack of interagency cooperation and preparedness was laid bare by the inability of the Administration to quickly reunite separated parents and children.

To access the full report, as well as documents disclosed to the Committee over the course of its investigation, click here."