The Trump administration separated thousands more migrant children from their parents at the U.S. border than has previously been made public, according to an investigative report released Thursday, but the federal tracking system has been so poor that the precise number is hazy.
According to a report issued Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services’s inspector general, the separated children include 118 taken between July and early November — after the administration halted a short-lived family separation policy that provoked a political firestorm and public outrage. The report estimates that thousands more youngsters were taken into government custody from early in the Trump administration and through last summer.
When immigration enforcement officials transferred those youngsters into HHS custody, they said the biggest reason was that their parents had criminal histories. But information on the parents’ criminal records often was so sketchy that it is unclear whether the separations were warranted or whether the children can be safely returned to their families, the report said.