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Cummings Writes to Sessions, Nielsen, Azar On Their Refusal to Produce Information on Separated Immigrant Children

Aug 2, 2018
Press Release
Trump Administration Refusing to Provide Basic Information in Response to Bipartisan Request with Chairman Meadows

Washington, D.C. (August 2, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter to the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services on their failure to comply with a bipartisan request from Cummings and Rep. Mark Meadows for basic information about immigrant children separated from their families by the Trump Administration.

On July 5, 2018, Cummings and Meadows, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, sent a letter requesting 11 categories of documents and information relating to the status of children separated from their parents or other accompanying adults, with a deadline of July 19.

Meadows agreed to join Cummings’ request after Democrats made their own requests on June 17, 2018, and June 22, 2018, but the agencies refused to comply.  During hearings on June 19, 2018, and June 27, 2018, Cummings implored his Republican colleagues to join his request.  Meadows agreed to review the request and subsequently agreed to join the bipartisan letter on July 5, 2018.

“To date, none of your agencies has complied with this request,” Cummings wrote.  “Although the Committee received a briefing on July 18, your agencies have failed to produce any of the 11 categories of documents and information that we requested in order to conduct our oversight responsibilities.”

 

  • The Department of Justice failed to send any letter in response to the bipartisan congressional request.

 

  • The Department of Health and Human Services sent a letter claiming its policy is “to not publish” information about children in its custody, despite the fact that the Members did not ask the agency to publish any information.

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security sent a letter declining to produce the information and claiming that it “has never had a blanket policy of separating families at the border.”

“Disregarding congressional requests in this way is unacceptable, particularly when these requests are made by the Chairman of the Subcommittee and Ranking Member of the full Committee with oversight responsibilities over your agencies,” wrote Cummings.

Cummings raised specific concerns about agencies refusing to provide information about the pressing issue of parents who were deported by the Trump Administration.

“As part of our request last month, Chairman Meadows and I requested detailed information about children whose parents were deported—including the dates, locations, and destination of their parents’ deportations—but all three of you refused to comply with this bipartisan congressional request,” Cummings wrote.

Last week, the Trump Administration deemed 650 children “ineligible” to be reunited with their parents, including parents the Trump Administration admitted deporting.  In some cases, the agencies reportedly have been unable to locate these deported parents.  In other cases, the agencies reportedly coerced some parents into waiving their asylum rights and leaving their children behind—or even separating their children again if their parents refused.

Cummings also raised concern with agencies refusing to provide similar information to other parties.

“Your refusal to produce information to Congress has been aggravated by your failures to produce information required under the Freedom of Information Act and by court orders in pending litigation.”

Cummings asked the agencies to provide this information by no later than August 16, 2018.

Click here to read today’s letter.

115th Congress