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“We are just beginning to get a picture of how this catastrophic child separation policy was allowed to be implemented, who raised red flags, and who ignored red flags, but there is much more to learn…” – Ur Jaddou, DHS Watch
Today the full House Judiciary Committee will convene an oversight hearing on the Trump Administration’s family separation policy with key government witnesses from ICE, CBP, DOJ and HHS. Also this morning, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a markup of a resolution authorizing issuance of subpoenas related to the Trump family separation policy. The hearing and markup come on the heels of the February 7 hearing of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Investigations on the same topic, which marked a new chapter in congressional oversight of this divisive and destructive set of policies.
The Feb. 7 hearing left open many questions and recent revelations from the courts and the press have placed greater urgency on the hearing and markup. As early as July, 5, 2018, Oversight Chairman Cummings and Subcommittee Ranking Member Mark Meadows sent a letter to the administration requesting information on family separations, which was reiterated in another letter by Chairman Cummings on August 2, 2018 and again on December 19, 2018. The requested information has not yet been produced. As a result, the Oversight Committee will hold a markup today to authorize subpoenas for the information.
“We are just beginning to get a picture of how this catastrophic child separation policy was allowed to be implemented, who raised red flags, and who ignored red flags in order to implement the President’s cruel and inhumane family separation policy,” said Ur Jaddou, the Director of DHS Watch, a project of America’s Voice. “With each iteration of oversight, more of the ugly details are likely to come out. This is critical because thousands more children than previously thought have been separated, children continue to be separated from their families, and the Trump Administration keeps dragging its feet with the court and Congress in providing full and accurate information necessary to make these families whole again.”
The questions for witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing could shed light not only on what happened but what is happening now. The court is putting pressure on the Trump Administration to account for thousands of children already separated from their families, but further information is needed on the extent to which the family separation policy is still being carried out. As the Texas Civil Rights Project and USA Today reported last week, and the HHS IG confirmed last month, family separation is an ongoing problem with hundreds of children being separated without consideration of basic child welfare principles and no oversight. Members of Congress on the Judiciary Committee could ask:
According to both the GAO and the HHS IG, DHS and HHS did not have systems to track separated families before the “zero tolerance” memo was implemented and still do not have effective tracking systems. Therefore, HHS was often unaware that a child in their custody was separated from a parent and parents often spent weeks and sometimes months searching for their child. Members of Congress on the Judiciary Committee could ask: