Startling information today released from the Office of the Inspector General reveals the child separation policy likely impacted thousands more migrants than we were told. It also began long before the public found out. The document reveals:

The total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is unknown. Pursuant to a June 2018 Federal District Court order, HHS (Health and Human Services Office) has thus far identified 2,737 children in its care at that time who were separated from their parents. However, thousands of children may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the Court, and HHS has faced challenges in identifying separated children.

The OIG adds:

In the summer of 2017, prior to the formal announcement of the zero-tolerance policy, ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement Care) staff and officials observed a steep increase in the number of children who had been separated from a parent or guardian by DHS (“separated children”).

The report also concludes that the system to keep track of the children was (or is still) severely flawed:

HHS faced significant challenges in identifying separated children, including the lack of an existing, integrated data system to track separated families across HHS and DHS and the complexity of determining which children should be considered separated.