Dear Inspectors General Kelly and Levinson:
We are deeply concerned about the Department of Justice's so-called "zero-tolerance" policy that has led to the systematic separation of immigrant children from their parents. Moreover, we are gravely disturbed about reports on children being separated from their parents and the possibility that they will never be reunited again. We are alarmed about the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) quality of the recordkeeping for these families.
A New York Times article reported that Elsa Johana Ortiz Enriquez was deported without her son. "An immigration officer handed her a handwritten note on a pink slip of paper with the words, "Call Shelter Son' and a telephone number. but she was deported before she could use it." This is an example of what appears to be a lack of quality recordkeeping to reunite parents with their children.
Therefore, we urge you to conduct an immediate investigation on DHS' and HHS' recordkeeping of children and parents who are being separated. Specifically, we would like the following questions to be answered in the report:
1. Does DHS and HHS keep separate records or is it one system to track the parents and their children? How are DHS and HHS keeping records of parents and children? What system(s) are the Departments using?
2. How quickly (average time) can DHS and/or HHS locate a child's parent? Is there an electronic database? Is it a paper file?
3. What is the process for DHS and HHS to reunite parents with their children? Which is the lead Department to reunite the families?
4. If parents are deported without their children, what is the process of reuniting the parents with their children?
5. Can every separated child be accounted for in DHS' and/or HHS' recordkeeping that links them to their parent, so that they can be reunited?
Given the time-sensitive nature of this ongoing matter, we urge you to begin a timely and complete review of the Departments' record-keeping of immigrant families. Please provide us with a response confirming that your respective offices will be reviewing DHS and HHS recordkeeping by the close of business on Friday, June 29th.