At least 18 migrant infants and toddlers under the age of 2 were separated from their parents at the southern border as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, including nine infants under the age of 1, according to a new report released Friday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Those infants and toddlers were kept apart for 20 days to up to six months, the report found.
The Democratic-led report was released just ahead of a hearing on alleged abuses committed against migrant children in the aftermath of the zero tolerance policy.
The report is based on data obtained through subpoenas of the Trump administration officials, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The policy of deliberate family separations began in April 2018 and resulted in at least 2,600 children being taken away from their families after crossing into the country. It created a massive outcry, and the backlash forced the administration to walk it back just three months later.
Among the details uncovered in the report, at least 241 separated children were kept in Border Patrol facilities longer than the 72 hours permitted by law.
The report also found children were moved to multiple facilities. More than 400 children were moved to multiple Customs and Border Protection facilities, more than 80 children were moved to multiple HHS facilities and at least five children were moved to multiple Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities.
In addition, the report shows some parents were never sent to federal criminal custody, despite what the administration intended under zero tolerance. The report found others who were “briefly taken into custody and then returned within a day or two likely because prosecutors declined to prosecute their cases or because they were sentenced to time served for the misdemeanor of illegal entry.”
Yet the committee said the information obtained is not complete, and “in many respects, it is woefully inadequate.”
It does not include information about thousands of additional children who may have been separated prior to April 2018, information about children who were reunited with their parents prior to June 2018, or information about more than 700 additional children who have been separated by the administration since June 2018.
The zero tolerance policy called for the criminal prosecution of all adult migrants who were detained after trying to cross the country’s southern border. Any children brought across the border were separated from their parents, deemed to be “unaccompanied” and detained by HHS in separate facilities sometimes hundreds of miles from their parents.
A ruling by a federal judge in San Diego forced the administration to reunite many of the children who were separated under the policy, but the House report alleges the separations continued even after the policy ended.