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Photo: Tom Cooper/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) never had proper systems in place to keep track of separated migrant children under the "zero tolerance" policy, according to a new report from the agency's inspector general (IG).

Why it matters: Immigration officials knew about the tracking issues ahead of time and anticipated separating more than 26,000 children within a few months, but the policy was rolled out anyway. It took months for families to be reunited, causing thousands of kids to be traumatized. The IG could not confirm how many were impacted or whether all have been reunited.

  • "Without a reliable account of all family relationships, we could not validate the total number of separations, or reunifications," the IG wrote.

Between the lines: The report found that Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) knew it did not have the technology systems needed to keep track of separated kids as early as November 2017. The "zero tolerance" policy didn't fully go into effect until May 2018, and CBP had estimated they would separate more than 26,000 kids between then and September. Yet, the issues were never adequately addressed.

  • The policy wasn't effective either, according to the report..
  • "Instead, thousands of detainees were released into the United States. Moreover, the surge in apprehended families during this time resulted in children being held in CBP facilities beyond the 72-hour legal limit."

Read the full report.

Go deeper: DHS struggles with filling permanent leadership positions

Go deeper

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Friday had already reached 61.7% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Republicans gear up for day-of and post-Election Day litigation

Voters wait in line to cast their early ballots Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Republican Party officials say they're already looking to Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Nevada as likely battlegrounds for post-election lawsuits if the results are close.

The big picture: As pre-election lawsuits draw to a close, and with President Trump running behind Joe Biden in national and many battleground state polls, Republicans are turning their attention to preparations for Election Day and beyond, and potential recounts.