Trump administration officials have failed to prepare for separated families as they continue their “zero tolerance” policy for parents and children crossing the southern United States border with Mexico, according to a scathing report from the government.
The US Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s report, released just days before President Donald Trump left the White House, blamed much of the policy’s failures on Jeff Sessions, former US attorney general , and Rod Rosenstein, former Deputy Attorney General.
According to the report, Mr. Sessions and the Department of Justice “are firmly focused on increasing immigration prosecutions at the expense of careful and appropriate consideration of the impact of family unit prosecutions and separations. of children ”.
Joe Biden, the president-elect, said he would convene a federal task force to review family separation policy and bring together the hundreds of children who are still separated from their parents.
“It is imperative that we correct these grave injustices, including facilitating the reunification of these families in the United States as soon as possible and protecting them from detention and deportation,” House Democrats said in a statement Thursday. joint press release. “It’s the least we can do.”
Mr Sessions resigned as attorney general in November 2018 and ran in last year’s Senate election in Alabama, but lost in the Republican primary to former college football coach Tommy Tuberville.
Mr. Trump came under heavy criticism in the early years of his presidency for his immigration policies on the US-Mexico border, particularly after the publication of images and videos showing young children forcibly separated from their parents.
The president abruptly ended the policy with an executive order in June 2018, although a separate watchdog report by January 2019, thousands of migrant children had been separated from their families.
Democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday that the Inspector General’s latest report “sheds new light on the chaos, cruelty and reckless disregard of vulnerable children in our country’s care.”
“This dark chapter in our history should never be repeated,” the House Democrats added in their statement, saying they “looked forward to” the author of the report testifying before Congress.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee also reacted strongly to Thursday’s report.
Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic Senator from Rhode Island, said: “We are only beginning to report on the damage President Trump and his cronies have done to the department. [of justice]”.
Mr Biden said he would appoint Merrick garland, the federal court appeals judge whose nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Republicans in 2016, to be attorney general of his administration.
Bill Barr resigned as attorney general last month after falling out with Mr Trump over his unsubstantiated allegations of widespread voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election. Jeffrey Rosen is the current Acting Attorney General.