Top House Dems request broad investigations into Trump immigration policy

Top House Dems request broad investigations into Trump immigration policy
© Anna Moneymaker

Top House Democrats are asking federal agency watchdogs to conduct broad investigations into the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, including the separation of children from their parents and the president's recent executive order designed to halt the practice.

“We have grave concerns about how the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Health and Human Services considered, prepared for, and executed these policies,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter Friday to the inspectors general of each agency.

The letter was signed by Reps. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFederal judge dismisses Dem lawsuit over Trump hotel in DC Cummings: Trump has 'got to be better' about condemning racism Sunday shows preview: Virginia lawmakers talk Charlottesville, anniversary protests MORE (Md.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonTSA needs to answer important questions on 'Quiet Skies' program Dems demand Trump admin officials testify on election security Hillicon Valley: Trump denies Russian meddling at presser with Putin | Republicans join in criticism of Trump | FCC chief rejects Sinclair-Tribune merger | Uber faces probe over gender discrimination | Social media execs headed to Capitol MORE (Miss.), Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottHouse Democrats to introduce bill that would allow free two-year degrees: report Top Dems urge Trump officials to reverse suspension of ObamaCare payments Overnight Health Care: Judge blocks Kentucky Medicaid work requirements | Trump officials consider cuts to ObamaCare outreach | House probes HHS office in charge of migrant children MORE (Va.) and Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Dems press FCC chairman for answers on false cyberattack claim House Dems call for new FCC probe into Sinclair Bipartisan leaders of House panel press drug companies on opioid crisis MORE (N.J.) — the ranking members on the committees for Oversight and Government Reform, the Judiciary, Homeland Security, Education and the Workforce, and Energy and Commerce, respectively.

The lawmakers expressed concern that the agencies failed to put in place adequate protocols to reunite children and their parents before implementing the policy.

They added that news reports suggest the Trump administration has been deporting parents alone and may be coercing them to waive their legal rights and leave the country in order to be reunited with their children.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS has in custody more than 2,000 children who were separated from their parents after being brought into country illegally.

The administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy called for the separations, but President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Pawlenty loses comeback bid in Minnesota Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary MORE later signed an executive order designed to keep families together while in detention.

A federal judge this week ordered the administration to return immigrant children younger than five years old to their parents within two weeks. Older children must be reunited within 30 days, the judge ordered.

The administration has failed to say how many children have been reunited with their parents since the order was signed, and it has given little indication that there is a plan in place to reunite families.

“The administration still has not provided consistent information on a family reunification plan, whether children are still being separated at the border, or whether your agencies have accurate information about whether detained children entered the United States as unaccompanied minors or were separated from their parents upon entry,” the Democrats wrote.

The HHS inspector general has already announced an investigation into the treatment of immigrant children at agency-run shelters. However, the probe will focus only on health and safety concerns.

The Democratic lawmakers said in their letter that while they support the effort, they want an expanded investigation.