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All Oversight Committee Democrats Reiterate Call for Gowdy to Investigate Trump Policy of Separating Children at Border

Jun 17, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (June 17, 2018)—Today, Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings and all Democrats on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy reiterating their request for an investigation into the Trump Administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border—regardless of whether they may have legitimate asylum claims.

  

“To evaluate the effects of this policy, we ask that the Committee hold a hearing in July with the Cabinet officials responsible for implementing this policy, including the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services,” the Members wrote.  “We also ask for your help in obtaining critical documents and information relating to this policy, and in scheduling a trip for Committee Members to witness first-hand how this policy is being implemented and how children are coping in U.S. detention facilities.”

 

According to multiple reports, the Trump Administration’s child separation policy is “already leading to the breakup of hundreds of migrant families and channeling children into shelters and foster homes across the country.”  In just the first two weeks under this new policy, the Administration referred for prosecution “638 parents who arrived with 658 children.”

 

“We have seen the heartbreaking consequences of this policy every day—consequences that subject separated children to severe conditions,” the Members wrote. 

 

There have been reports that children are not being promptly transferred from “icebox” facilities operated by Customs and Border Protection to the custody of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement within the Department of Health and Human Services, as required by law.  Immigration experts and advocacy groups report that children are being separated from their parents for indefinite periods of time and are frequently left to sit in “cold law enforcement ‘hold rooms’” for days.

 

“The Trump Administration also appears to be violating its own promise not to separate children or prosecute asylum seekers who present themselves to authorities at points of entry on the border,” the Members wrote. 

 

When the Trump Administration announced its child separation policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan stated, “If you have a clear claim to asylum, go to the port of entry where you’re safe.” Despite this claim, there are multiple reports that the Trump Administration is separating children at ports of entry.  

 

“Contrary to repeated assertions from President Donald Trump and other senior Administration officials, this policy is not required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act or any other law,” the Members wrote.  “The ‘zero tolerance’ policy is just that—a policy put in place by the Administration.  It is our Committee’s responsibility to conduct basic oversight over this policy and evaluate the justification, costs to the taxpayers, and consequences of this decision.”

 

Multiple groups have called for the end of child separation, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

 

The Members requested that Chairman Gowdy request documents from DHS, DOJ and HHS regarding the development of the new policy, its legal basis, its impact, and its implementation, including how the agencies are tracking and treating these separated children.

 

Last month, Ranking Member Cummings and Rep. Carolyn Maloney wrote to Chairman Gowdy requesting a hearing to investigate the issue of child separation, but Gowdy has not responded to date.

 

Click here to read today’s letter.

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115th Congress