KIND Statement on DHS Inspector General Report on Family Separation

June 2, 2020

Trump Administration Intensifies Assault on Immigrant Children and Families as IG Report Reveals Full Scope of 2018 Family Separation Policy

Washington, DC- Two years after the Trump Administration implemented its policy to separate immigrant children from their parents, today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General (IG) revealed that from May 6 to July 9, 2018, the Trump Administration separated more than eight times as many families as DHS had previously acknowledged. The IG report further revealed that the administration separated many of those families for reasons other than ones publicly represented.

“Today’s report shows the true scope of this administration’s appalling 2018 family separation policy, the complete incompetence of its architects, and the dangers that these individuals continue to pose to children and families seeking safety in the United States,” said Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) President Wendy Young. “Right now, this administration is attempting to skirt its legal responsibilities and separate families again by forcing parents in federal custody to keep their kids in detention indefinitely, where there is a higher risk of COVID-19 infection, or else face separation from their children. This attack on kids and families was shameful in 2018 and it’s shameful today.”

According to KIND, the revelations released today come as no surprise. From the beginning, DHS has failed to properly track essential information regarding the thousands of family members it has separated, resulting in often catastrophic consequences such as the inability of many families to promptly if ever reunify. Not only has their ineptitude resulted in more separations than we originally knew about, it continues to this day as prolonged and unnecessary separations are still taking place.

Although the IG’s report details events occurring in the fall and summer of 2018, it has critical implications for the present. The Trump Administration’s efforts to break families up and to undermine the rights of vulnerable unaccompanied children remain ongoing, and in significant respects they are more destructive than ever.  Just last month, DHS forced hundreds of parents into an impossible—and wholly unnecessary—choice: keep their families detained indefinitely in locked facilities where the risk of COVID-19 is extremely high or face separation from their children.

In addition, since March, the Department has turned away over 1000 unaccompanied children seeking protection at the U.S. southern border. During these turnbacks, the government is not keeping track of who these children are, who are they are being expelled with, or even asking them where their parents may be.  Parents may never know what the U.S. government has done with their child. During that same period, the administration has rushed through the deportations of unaccompanied children, with no regard for where their parents may be, and stripping them of any meaningful opportunity for safety.

There are widespread indications that, like in 2018, the Trump Administration is failing to meaningfully track and provide transparency around such initiatives. For example, DHS has repeatedly failed to provide Congress and the public with essential sunlight concerning the policies and processes governing the turnbacks of unaccompanied children at the border, and the information, if any, that the administration is tracking in connection with these children’s return to Mexico and Central America.

“Far from learning from the mistakes it made in 2018, DHS is doubling down on them. Indeed, cruelty to families and children has now become a hallmark of this administration. Congress should demand that the administration end these destructive policies and practices without delay.  Vulnerable families and children deserve better, and so does our nation,” concluded Young.


Media Contact: Megan McKenna,, 202-631-9990