DHS watchdog to investigate family separations

TIJUANA, MEXICO - JUNE 21:  A migrant mother walks with her two daughters on their way to cross the port of entry into the U.S. for their asylum hearing on June 21, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. The mother, who did not wish to give their names, said they were fleeing their hometown near the Pacific coast of Mexico after suffering a violent carjacking of her taxicab. The Trump Administration's controversial zero tolerance immigration policy led to an increase in the number of migrant children who have been separated from their families at the southern U.S. border. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has added that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Washington (CNN)The Department of Homeland Security's watchdog will investigate its practices regarding families that were separated on the border, the inspector general confirmed to members of Congress Thursday.

The DHS inspector general had already been investigating reports of family separations, as CNN reported in April. But that investigation was opened before the department's "zero tolerance" policy that meant separating thousands of families to prosecute the parents had been established and made public.
The investigation was confirmed in a letter to more than 120 House Democrats who had requested an investigation into how DHS kept records of the thousands of families it separated at the border. As the government has hurried to comply with a court order to reunite separated families by Thursday, it has had trouble even matching the children in Health and Human Services' custody with parents who may be in DHS custody. It prompted Judge Dana Sabraw to note that the government seemed to have better record-keeping for property than people.
    The IG's investigation will be broader, though, the letter said.
    "We have received multiple congressional requests for reviews in this area. We are broadly reviewing issues regarding the separation of families, conditions of U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities where minors are detained, and other issues of congressional interest," acting Inspector General John V. Kelly said in the letter.
    The HHS inspector general and Government Accountability Office also have opened investigations into the issue. Kelly said his office intends to coordinate with the HHS IG, but is not currently planning to issue a joint report.