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Cummings Implores Republicans to Join Democratic Request for Documents on Separated Immigrant Children

Jun 27, 2018
Press Release
“Is there one Republican who will join us?”

Washington, D.C. (June 27, 2018)—Today, during a hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings pleaded directly with his Republican colleagues to join a letter sent earlier this week by all Committee Democrats seeking basic documents from the Trump Administration to help thousands of immigrant children reunite with their parents.

Chairman Trey Gowdy has ignored all previous Democratic requests to investigate President Donald Trump’s child separation policy, including letters on May 22, 2018, and June 17, 2018.  On June 19, 2018, video of Cummings issuing a blistering condemnation of the child separation policy went viral as he implored his Republican colleagues to “stand up to President Trump” and “stand up for those children.”  Republicans never responded.

As a result, on June 22, 2018, Cummings and all Committee Democrats took matters into their own hands and sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen M. Nielsen, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding basic information on every separated child, as well as an interagency plan to reunite them with their parents.

Today, Cummings used his time during a hearing on President Trump’s government reorganization proposal to ask his Republican colleagues to join the Democratic request for documents to help these children:

“So now I am pleading, I’m pleading with you again—anyone on this panel, anyone.  Is there one Republican who will join us?  Just one to save and help these families reunite.  Anyone?  Radio silence.  Is there one Republican who will sign his or her name to this letter requesting the basic facts and the documents about these children?  I will yield to any Republican Member who will join us in this effort.  I ask one last time, is there one?”

Cummings noted that the agencies will not provide the documents sought by Democrats without a Republican on the request.  He also noted the hypocrisy of House Republicans calling an “emergency” hearing tomorrow on Hillary Clinton’s emails, but not a hearing on the separated children.

“What I do think is extremely serious is the urgent plight of thousands of children who the Trump Administration separated from their parents with no discernable plan to reunite them.  None.  Zero.  Tomorrow, the Judiciary Committee is holding a so-called “emergency hearing” on Hillary Clinton’s emails.  They are hauling up Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray to demand more answers.  But the real emergency is these children, these babies and toddlers whom the government has, unilaterally, and literally, torn from the arms of their parents—some of them a few months old.  To my Republican colleagues, last week, I asked a very simple question, but a very profound one.  I simply asked for your help.  Call a hearing.  Ask DHS and HHS and DOJ to come up here and testify about what the plan is to reunite these children, these kids, with their families.  Light a fire up under them to get them moving.   If we can have an emergency hearing on Hillary Clinton, we certainly can have an emergency hearing on these children.”

At the conclusion of Cummings’ statement, Chairman Mark Meadows agreed to review the Democratic document request from June 22 and consider joining, promising to “get back to you within 24 hours.”

Below is Ranking Member Cummings’ full statement.  

 

 

 

                    

 

Opening Statement (As Delivered)

Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings

Hearing on “Examining the Administration’s Governmentwide Reorganization Plan”

 

Mr. Chairman, I am glad that we are having this hearing today.  I definitely have numerous questions for the witness about the Trump Administration’s reorganization plan.  For example, I want to know, why is it that there no analysis of the costs and benefits of this proposal?  Why is there no assessment of its impact on the federal budget?  Why is there no information at all about how it will affect federal workers?  And why is it that there is no list of actions that require congressional approval?  These are all basic prerequisites for a serious plan, and they are completely missing from this one.  Last week, my staff asked the Office of Management and Budget for these assessments, and they were told that they do not exist.

The Trump Administration now claims that it wants to use this proposal “to build productive, bipartisan dialogue.”  If that were a serious claim, the Trump Administration would have worked with us over the past year instead of keeping their work secret, despite multiple requests from Members of this Committee. 

Take just one example in our Committee’s jurisdiction—the Postal Service.  We have a bipartisan bill—Mr. Chairman, you have worked very hard on that bill with us—that we passed out of our Committee unanimously that would help the Postal Service maintain a more solid financial footing going forward.  Instead of working with us, President Trump unilaterally appointed a task force to come up with its own ideas about the Postal Service.  Then, without even waiting for his own task force’s results, President Trump rushed in this proposal to eliminate the Postal Service entirely.  Ladies and gentleman, it makes no sense.  Like so many other ideas that come out of this White House, President Trump’s proposal to privatize the Postal Service is disorganized, unilateral, nonsensical, and frankly, incompetent.  I do not think this plan is a serious one.

What I do think is extremely serious is the urgent plight of thousands of children who the Trump Administration separated from their parents with no discernable plan to reunite them.  None.  Zero.  Tomorrow, the Judiciary Committee is holding a so-called “emergency hearing” on Hillary Clinton’s emails.  They are hauling up Rod Rosenstein and Christopher Wray to demand more answers.  But the real emergency is these children, these babies and toddlers whom the government has, unilaterally, and literally, torn from the arms of their parents—some of them a few months old.

To my Republican colleagues, last week, I asked a very simple question, but a very profound one.  I simply asked for your help.  Call a hearing.  Ask DHS and HHS and DOJ to come up here and testify about what the plan is to reunite these children, these kids, with their families.  Light a fire up under them to get them moving.   If we can have an emergency hearing on Hillary Clinton, we certainly can have an emergency hearing on these children.

And so I asked a question.  I asked for help.  But guess what?  I got no response.  Zilch.  Didn’t even get a letter.  Not a phone call.  Nothing.  So the children continue to suffer.  You’ve seen them locked up in cages.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  This is our country, this is a great country.  But we will be judged by the way we treat our citizens, and particularly our children.

So on Friday, we had to send our own letter, just from the Democrats, dated June 22, to the Attorney General Sessions, DHS Secretary Nielsen, and HHS Secretary Azar.  We asked for basic information on each child that was separated from his or her parents so we could monitor and promote efforts to unify these families.  These are documents they should have at their fingertips, and we asked for them by tomorrow.

Apparently, however, we cannot have these documents, for some reason.  And as we all know, the Democrats are in the minority, and since no Republican joined our request, the agencies will not produce the documents.  We hear a lot of talk from the agency heads, but no documents.

So now I am pleading, I’m pleading with you again—anyone on this panel, anyone.  Is there one Republican who will join us?  Just one to save and help these families reunite.  Anyone?  Radio silence.  Is there one Republican who will sign his or her name to this letter requesting the basic facts and the documents about these children?  I will yield to any Republican Member who will join us in this effort.  I ask one last time, is there one?

Issa:  Would the gentleman yield?

Cummings:  Yes.

Issa:  Would, would you give the 30 days that the San Diego court has ordered for full reunification as part of the letter, since the President’s Executive Order now has been codified by a federal judge?

Cummings:  No, no, and I take ...

Issa:  So you wouldn’t give the  President and the federal court system 30 days to unify them?

Cummings:  I’m just taking back my time.  I’ll let you see the letter, and if you want to sign on to the letter …

Issa:  I look forward to seeing it.

Cummings:  Yeah, we need help.  These children need help.  We wouldn’t do this to our own children.  We would not allow people to split up our families.  As a matter of fact, if they tried to split up our families, we would go off.  And so as I close, Mr. Chairman ...

Meadows:  If the gentleman will yield?  If you’ll give me a copy of the letter, I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.  You know that I have a bipartisan history of demanding documents regardless of their political, I guess, relevance.  And if you’ll give me a copy of the letter, we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

Cummings:  Thank you very much, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  And I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for that.  It means a lot to me.  And so, we move forward, but I say to my colleagues, you can have your emergency hearing on Hillary Clinton’s emails, but can’t we also have one on these kids who desperately need our help?

Children are separated from their parents by our own government.  Isn’t that an emergency?  Another week has gone by, and there is still no functioning plan to reunite these families.  Isn’t that an emergency?  The harm and the trauma our own government is inflicting on these children is continuing and compounding every single day. 

There is no question that this is an emergency.  I’ve often said that what you do to a child, and if it’s negative, it probably lasts them for the rest of their lives.  And it is not the deed, it’s the memory that haunts them and harms them.  And so, we all know in our hearts that we need to address this.  We need to start treating it like the emergency that it is.  And Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for what you just said.  This is a bipartisan issue—it should be.  And we look forward to your response.

 

115th Congress