In April 2018, NIJC filed FOIA requests in collaboration with the American Immigration Council, the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, Kids in Need of Defense, and Women's Refugee Commission, for internal records on family separation. The requests ask for policies, guidelines, or procedures used by governmental agencies to address the processing and treatment of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, the separation of adult family members from minor children, the criminal prosecution of adult family members, and efforts to reunify families.
The FOIA requests, and subsequent litigation led by the American Immigration Council have produced records exposing how DHS sought to develop a false narrative demonizing victims of family separation. The records include internal plans showing how the Trump administration arrested parents of migrant children in a program designed to prosecute them for smuggling. Other records reveal that Homeland Security Investigations, ICE’s investigative wing, monitored protest preparations across the United States and internationally in June 2018, as communities organized to oppose family separation policies.
The requests have also unearthed records showing that children continue to be separated from their parents at the border following the ostensible end of the “Zero Tolerance” policy on June 20, 2018. The documents, in addition to testimony from NIJC clients, show that the administration relies on a parent’s criminal history, either in the United States or a foreign country, and allegations of gang affiliation to justify ongoing separations.