SAA Letter to the NYT Editor: Migrant Family Records


July 10, 2018—Responding to a July 5 New York Times article, SAA President Tanya Zanish-Belcher today sent the following letter to the editor:

The recent report of difficulties reunifying migrant families (“Trump Administration in Chaotic Scramble to Reunify Migrant Families”) is a troubling demonstration of the harmful results when federal agencies fail to effectively manage records in the course of conducting government business. Agencies must create accurate, usable, and readily accessible records to ensure individual rights and government transparency. Although the National Archives and Records Administration is mandated to assist agencies in the records management process, it has limited authority to require proper management of agency records. The Society of American Archivists, which represents more than 6,000 professional archivists in the U.S., strongly urges concerned citizens and Congress to focus on strengthening requirements for agencies to effectively document and manage the conduct of business, including enforcement of sanctions on agencies failing to do so. We deserve—and should demand—that our democracy is supported by accurate, effectively managed information.