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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

54 mins ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.