DHS IG: CBP knew its technology could not handle family separations before pushing zero tolerance policy 

“Prior to implementing the Trump administration’s Zero Tolerance immigration policy last year, Customs and Border Protection officials knew serious IT deficiencies would hamper the agency’s ability to reunite separated families but chose to move forward anyway, according to a report from the Homeland Security Department inspector general.”

“What’s more, agency leadership told agents to use workarounds that had already proven to be ineffectual, time-consuming and error-prone, as children sat in detention—some for more than seven months—waiting to return to their families.”

“The administration’s Zero Tolerance policy—in place from May to June 2018—resulted in thousands of children being separated from their parents and guardians. While CBP has IT systems for tracking individuals through the detention and prosecution process, the system lacked data fields to connect family members, making it nearly impossible to reliably track those separations, auditors said.”

“After a small-scale test in November 2017, U.S. Border Patrol officials on the ground told leadership the lack of a functional IT system would be a problem, however, the department actively declined to address those issues before rolling out the Zero Tolerance initiative, auditors found. Instead, leadership told agents on the ground to use workarounds like maintaining Excel spreadsheets, a method that was found to introduce more errors and clog the process during a 2017 test…” Read the full article here.

Source: IG: CBP Knew Its Tech Couldn’t Handle Family Separations Before Pushing Zero Tolerance Policy – By Aaron Boyd, December 2, 2019. Nextgov.

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