(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led all Democratic Committee Members in sending a letter demanding that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen M. Nielsen, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions produce basic, but key information by next week on every child separated under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, as well as an interagency plan to reunite them with their parents.
In a statement announcing today’s letter, Cummings said:
“Earlier this week, I personally implored my Republican colleagues to stand up for these children and join us in conducting an investigation to help reunite these families. We have sent multiple letters asking our Republican colleagues to help, but they refuse to respond, refuse to request documents, and refuse to hold hearings. Our Democratic Members are furious about the Trump Administration’s incompetent and inhumane policy and fed up with the complete lack of action by House Republicans to remedy its fallout. So today we are sending our own letter demanding that the Trump Administration officials responsible for this policy produce a full accounting for every child who was separated, as well as an interagency plan for reuniting them with their families. The information we are demanding is information that these Trump Administration officials already should have at their fingertips—and if they don’t, they should be moving Heaven and Earth to get it as soon as possible.”
Today’s letter demands that Nielsen, Azar, and Sessions produce by June 28, 2018, basic data on each individual child who was separated pursuant to the Trump Administration’s policy. The letter states:
“The Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border has been a travesty at all levels. Although President Trump now claims to have reversed this inhumane policy, he has not explained how thousands of children will be reunited with their families. You have a moral responsibility to remedy these grave mistakes and reunite these children with their parents immediately. We are writing to demand an accounting of every baby, infant, toddler, and child that you stripped from his or her parents. We also insist that you immediately provide Congress with a coordinated, interagency plan to ensure that every child is returned to his or her parents and that no parents are deported while their children remain in custody in the United States.”
Today’s letter cites reports that “before implementing this new policy, your agencies failed to put in place adequate protocols to reunite children and their parents at the resolution of these proceedings,” reports that “indicate that your agencies have been deporting parents without their children,” and warnings that “there is a very high risk” that some of these children could be separated “permanently” if their parents are deported without them.
“Intentionally and permanently separating children from their families is simply not an outcome we can accept as Americans,” the Members wrote. “In addition to producing this information, we request that you provide a briefing by June 28, 2018, detailing the specific processes you will utilize to reunite each and every one of these separated children with his or her parents, as well as the manner in which you will ensure that parents are not deported without their children.”
On June 17, 2018, all Oversight Committee Democrats wrote to Chairman Trey Gowdy requesting that the Committee investigate the origin and ramifications of the Trump Administration’s policy through hearings, document requests, and a trip to U.S. facilities implementing the policy. This letter followed a previous letter on May 22, 2018, from Cummings and Committee Member Carolyn Maloney. In addition, on Tuesday, during yet another hearing called by Republicans on Hillary Clinton’s emails, Cummings issued a blistering condemnation of the child separation policy and implored his Republican colleagues to “stand up to President Trump” and “stand up for those children.”
Gowdy has not responded to any of these requests.
Click here to read today’s letter.