Last month, the Atlantic published an archive of internal government documents — including records obtained by American Oversight — related to the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance initiative, the immigration policy that formalized the separation of children from families. The collection features multiple documents that American Oversight obtained through its investigation of the family separation policy, all of which are included in our extensive timeline of events and records related to the creation and implementation of the policy.
The Atlantic published its document archive with the intent “to introduce greater transparency around a policy that gravely harmed thousands of families and whose development and intent were concealed from the public for years.” Records featured in the collection that were obtained by American Oversight include misleading responses from the Department of Homeland Security to external inquiries about the policy, as well as multiple documents related to investigations from the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) regarding concerns about the policy.
The CRCL records contain conversations among officials about complaints of “inappropriate family separations” and “troubling accounts regarding abuse, mistreatment, and coercion” from parents of separated children. A summary of investigations into CRCL complaints lists “new populations of U.S. orphans” and “permanent family separation” as “problematic outcomes” of the policy. One memo considers the implementation of a “family-member locator system” to address issues like “inadequate protocols,” “inconsistency,” and “lack of collaboration.”
American Oversight recently wrote about records obtained from DHS that provide further evidence of problems with detention capacity as well as the Trump administration’s failures to properly track children separated from their families. We also obtained records from CRCL that contain complaints and allegations of abuse filed against Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol officers.
Part of Investigation: