Immigrant parents and children are still being separated daily at the Mexican border, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan admitted under questioning from U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen today.
“A case where a parent and a child are separated now are extremely rare. It’s happening one to three times a day out of thousands of families arriving,” McAleenan said at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday.
McAleenan promised transparency to Rosen, who called out DHS for lying to the public and members of Congress about families separated at the border.
“Recent news reports indicate that DHS and HHS (Health and Human Services) officials exchanged emails on June 23, 2018 acknowledging that the departments did not have the necessary information to reunite migrant children with their families,” Rosen said during the hearing. “In those email exchanges, DHS and HHS admitted “in short, no, we do not have any linkages from parents to children.”
“The same day DHS issued a fact sheet claiming the Department knew the location of all children in custody and had a process in place for the families to know the location of the children and had a central database,” Rosen said.
Rosen noted that she and other members were “falsely told by leadership that the departments (Homeland Security and Health and Human Services) have the necessary information to reunite families and children.”
McAleenan attributed the contradictory information to a lack of integration among five different communications systems used by the agencies involved in immigration enforcement.
“We’re going to fix this,” McAleenan pledged. “It’s one of my priorities as acting secretary to have a unified integration portal.”
How many cases still lack the information necessary for reunification?
“My understanding is that every single child has an identified parent relationship at this point,” he said.
“Your department has a lot to do to regain the public trust, including mine. Will you commit that you won’t mislead us again the way I was misled?” Rosen asked.
“I will ensure that as long as I’m acting (director), we’re going to do our level best to explain what’s happening to Congress, to the American people, on all aspects of our mission,” McAleenan responded.