We determined that before July 12, 2018, migrant parents did not consistently have the opportunity to reunify with their children before removal. Although DHS and ICE have claimed that parents removed without their children chose to leave them behind, there was no policy or standard process requiring ICE officers to ascertain, document, or honor parents’ decisions regarding their children. As a result, from the time the Government began increasing criminal prosecutions in July 2017, ICE removed at least 348 separated parents without documenting whether those parents wanted to leave their children in the United States. In fact, ICE removed some parents without their children despite having evidence the parents wanted to bring their children back to their home country. In addition, we found that some ICE records purportedly documenting migrant parents’ decisions to leave their children in the United States were significantly flawed. We made two recommendation that will ensure ICE documents separated migrant parents’ decisions regarding their minor children upon removal from the United States, and develops a process to share information with Government officials to contact parents for whom ICE lacks documentation on reunification preferences. ICE concurred with our recommendations.
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