Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the National Archives and Records Administration (“NARA”) today requesting it investigate the reported actions of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) that appear to violate the Federal Records Act (“FRA”). The complaint was also sent to the departments’ respective inspectors general.
This morning, the New York Times reported that “[r]ecords linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases have been destroyed, according to two officials of the Department of Homeland Security, leaving the authorities struggling to identify connections between family members.” In hundreds of cases, Customs and Border Protection agents allegedly deleted the initial records in which parents and children were listed together as a family.
This would be a blatant violation of the Federal Records Act (FRA), which ensures the documentation and preservation of government records.
“Rarely, if ever, has a potential violation of the FRA had such grave implications,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “The reportedly destroyed records bear directly on the lives of thousands of immigrants seeking entry to our country, threatening the permanent separation of parents from their children.”
Given such high stakes, it is imperative that the actions of DHS and HHS are investigated immediately. The lives of thousands of families literally hang in the balance.