>> The Trump administration may have separated thousands more immigrant children from their parents at the border than previously known. But due to shoddy record keeping, the exact number is still unclear. That's according to a bombshell report Thursday by the Office of Inspector General at the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The separations happened prior to the Trump administration implementing a policy last year to criminally prosecute and jail border crossers even if that meant separating them from their children. Reuters correspondent Mica Rosenberg.>> They were separated for reasons that have been in place, in practice for almost a decade.
Where the government will separate children because the parent has a criminal record. Or because they have some sort of concern about the welfare of the child, or the parent is hospitalized. But what the report shows is that the Trump administration ramped up this policy, and increased many more families than had ever been separated before.
>> Reuters reported in June that from October, 2016, through February, 2018, before the official zero tolerance policy was in place, nearly 1,800 immigrant families were separated at the US-Mexico border. These separations, though, were only tracked informally, making it impossible for the auditor to know the exact number overall.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is run by HHS, said that the agency, quote, has only limited resources. And that counting prior separations would take away from its main focus of caring for children in custody. The separations in Thursday's report are not part of a class action lawsuit by the ACLU last year, when the government was ordered to reunite children with their parents.
>> Now that we know that there are thousands of other families, potentially, that aren't covered by that class, the ACLU says they could be going back to court.>> Return the kids.>> The zero tolerance policy sparked outrage and eventually led to the president signing an executive order last June, reversing it.