'60 Minutes' Investigated Trump's Family Separation Policy — And The Main Takeaways Are Daunting

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On Sunday evening, CBS aired 60 Minutes' investigation of Trump's family separation policy. The show examined the policy and its enforcement and implications in great detail — and made some startling findings.

Indeed, the 60 Minutes investigation into Trump's family separation policy found that the policy came as a surprise to most immigration officials, who were unsure how to enforce it. This confusion led to poor record keeping when it came to tracking children's whereabouts, among other problems. Moreover, CBS also reported that family separations seemingly began much earlier than the Trump administration had initially indicated.

In a Twitter response to 60 Minutes' report, Trump characterized the findings as "fake" and erroneously asserted that his immigration policies are the same as Barack Obama's. As Trump wrote:

@60Minutes did a phony story about child separation when they know we had the exact same policy as the Obama Administration ... Obama separated children from parents, as did Bush etc., because that is the policy and law ... So with Obama separation is fine, but with Trump it’s not. Fake 60 Minutes!

In 60 Minutes' report, Scott Shuchart, who previously worked at Homeland Security's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, lent some insight into how and why the enforcement of the family separation policy was so problematic. As Shuchart explained, federal agencies with expertise in immigration were never asked to review the policy. Instead, it was issued as a top-down directive from the Trump administration, which caused a host of implementation issues.

As Shuchart put it:

If you're going to separate families in the pursuit of an immigration policy, it was irresponsible to push that on top of a system that wasn't prepared on the backend to allow the families to be reconciled later ... People were removed to other countries without there being good records of what adult went with what child.

CBS also noted that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s own internal investigation reported similar findings. The outlet indicated that the investigation revealed that one border station "made no effort to identify and reunite families prior to [their] removal [from the United States]."

Cecilia Muñoz, who was the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under the Obama administration, condemned the rollout of the family separation policy on the show, saying:

They issued an order without consulting with the agencies who were responsible for carrying out that order ... We take better care of people's effects when we send them to jail than we took care of the children who we took from their parents ...

60 Minutes' report further revealed that the Trump administration may have begun its family separation policy earlier than assumed. The network obtained an uncensored version of a Homeland Security order that noted that a pilot family separation program was implemented at the El Paso sector from July to November 2017 — nine months earlier than the administration's official announcement of the policy. The El Paso sector reaches from New Mexico to west Texas.

Back in June 2018, NBC also reported on this El Paso pilot program — and a DHS official confirmed its existence to the network. 60 Minutes noted that it's not known how many families may have been separated as part of this pilot program that preceded the official enforcement of the family separation policy from April through June 2018.

Overall, 60 Minutes' family separation report certainly provided some striking insights into the implementation and duration of Trump's family separation policy. It remains to be seen whether the Trump administration will comment further on the show's investigation.