Demonstrators hold signs and gather during a protest against the Trump administration’s policy on separating immigrant families in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S. (Photographer: Cedric von Niederhausern/Bloomberg)

‘Disappeared’ U.S. Records on Detained Migrant Kids Sparks Probe

(Bloomberg) -- Claims by a U.S. ethics watchdog that the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies may have lost or destroyed files relating to the separation of migrant children at the border have triggered a government probe into the proper retention of records.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration started the investigation after receiving a July 6 complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which cited a New York Times report about the loss of records, the watchdog said Thursday in a statement.

The Trump administration separated about 3,000 children from their parents under a new “zero tolerance” policy for prosecuting illegal border crossings, triggering a court order for reunifications that’s been hindered in many cases by a lack of proper records. The government has said children’s safety is its top priority and defended the process.

The Washington-based archival agency on July 10 asked Customs and Border Protection, a part of DHS, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services, to respond to the allegations within 30 days, according to a copy of the letter shared by the ethics group, which goes by CREW.

The New York Times article cited two unidentified DHS officials saying that records “linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases have been destroyed” and “leaving the authorities struggling to identify connections between family members,” according to CREW’s statement.

The National Archives is responsible for federal records management and regularly conducts inspections and other oversight activities.

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