As children stolen from families at the southern border under the barbaric “zero tolerance” policy continue to remain in U.S. custody 175 days past a federal judge’s reunification deadline, a government watchdog has found that the Trump administration stole potentially thousands more kids from families than previously known. Just how many were stolen is, horrifically, “unknown.”
While the administration eventually said that more than 2,500 children had been kidnapped under the 2018 policy, the Office of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General confirmed officials were separating families long before that. "How many more children were separated is unknown,” the OIG said Thursday, “by us and HHS." This squares up with a 2017 Amnesty International report, which also found that far more families were separated than previously reported.
The administration had no plans to reunite children stolen under the policy, and only did so because of a federal judge’s court order. But, "’thousands of separated children’ entered the care of the HHS refugee office before the court order, the report said. The reunification rate for those children is not known, the inspector general's office said.” According to NBC News, “some may have been released to family or nonrelative sponsors, but it is not known how many have been reunified.”
“The report also found that the Trump administration failed to track separated families in a single database,” Politico reports, “an administrative decision that complicated efforts to reunify the families.” Remember that HHS Secretary Alex Azar told senators that “I could at the stroke of keystrokes … within seconds could find any child within our care for any parent.” Yet he, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen continue to remain in their jobs.
“Where are these children now?” asked reporter Brooke Binkowski. “How many have been drugged, raped, beaten, killed? Where is the oversight? Where is the accountability?” This is a crime against humanity, a disaster of historic proportions that should be the end of any presidency. But under Donald Trump, it seems to be treated as business as usual.