Customs agents reportedly deleted records that could have been used to reunite hundreds of immigrant families


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The federal government is rushing to meet a deadline to reunite thousands of immigrant children separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.
But the reunification efforts have been complicated by the fact that government records assigning “family identification numbers” to immigrant families were reportedly deleted.
The immigrant families are now entered in federal computers as separate individuals, and federal employees are reviewing thousands of immigrant children’s cases by hand.

Time is running out for the federal government to meet court-imposed deadlines to reunite the thousands of immigrant children who were separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy.

The government has until July 10 to reunite roughly 100 children under the age of five with their parents — and until July 26 to reunite hundreds of other older children. Alex Azar, the secretary of Health and Human Services, told reporters on Thursday that under 3,000 children in total were separated by the government, though he couldn’t specify the exact number.

But a number of bureaucratic hurdles have complicated the efforts to place those children back with their parents. The Trump administration in a court filing late Thursday night requested further guidance from the court on reuniting the families, saying the government may need more time in certain cases.

Much of the problem reportedly stems from incomplete records on the immigrant families who were arrested at the border. Though the families were originally assigned a “family identification number” when they were first being processed, customs agents deleted those initial records, two Homeland Security officials told The New York Times.

Without the family identification numbers to connect them, immigrant parents and their children appear in federal computers as individuals with separate cases and no relation to one another.

11,800 immigrant children’s files are being reviewed by hand

The lack of those identification numbers became a major issue after the children were placed in the custody of the Health and Human Services department and flown to shelters across the country.

“That was the big problem. We weren’t able to see that information,” one of the officials told The Times.

The officials said the records weren’t deleted deliberately to conceal the family ties, but because the customs agents thought it was more logical to track cases separately rather than as a family unit.

But due to those missing records, the Health and Human Services department has been plunged into a …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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