Live coverage: House Oversight examines Trump family separation policy

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is holding hearings Friday on alleged abuses committed against migrant minors in the aftermath of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, which resulted in at least 2,800 family separations.

Four members of Congress will testify before the committee on conditions they've witnessed in visits to migrant shelters and detention centers on the southern border.

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The scheduled witnesses include Reps. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarGun epidemic is personal for lawmakers touched by violence House holds moment of silence for El Paso victims House Republicans want details on Democrats' trips to Mexico MORE (D-Texas), whose El Paso district has been ground zero for much of the humanitarian crisis at the border, Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezGreta Thunberg scolds Congress on climate action: 'I know you are trying but just not hard enough' Ocasio-Cortez endorses challenger to Democrat Lipinski in Illinois race The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? MORE (D-N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Pressley on Kavanaugh impeachment: 'Deeply disturbing' that a justice 'could have this many allegations' Trump praises Kavanaugh as a 'great, brilliant man,' blasts NYT over 'smear' report at rally MORE (D-Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar says she hopes Netanyahu not reelected Bill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (D-Mich.).

A second panel will include current administration officials Jennifer L. Costello, the acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Ann Maxwell, assistant inspector general for evaluation and inspections at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as Elora Mukherjee and Jennifer Nagda, lawyers who've visited the shelters.

The second panel will also feature Tom Homan, the former director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a staunch Trump ally whom Trump earlier this month floated as a possible border czar.

Bookmark here to follow The Hill's live coverage of the hearing.

Cummings brings hearing to a close

4:39 p.m.

In closing, Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMajority of voters say federal officials staying at Trump hotels is a conflict of interest The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? House committee launches investigation into Transportation Secretary Chao MORE (D-Md.) said he tells his children, "when you walk into a storm, you have to respect the storm."

"We have to go the extra mile to make sure we do the things immediately to make sure we bring comfort to these children," said Cummings. 

Cummings spoke of his concern of long-term effects on the children in detention centers.

"These children will grow up when we're dead. We'll be dancing with the angels and what kind of message will we have sent?" 

"Part of this is about trying to change the trajectory of their destinies," said Cummings. "and so help me god I'm going to do everything in our power and work with the entire committee to try to resolve these issues as best I can."

"This moment is our watch, we are on watch right now" Cummings said. "We can put our handprints and our fingerprints on their futures and on their destinies." 

— Rafael Bernal 

GOP Rep. Comer uses last question to allow Homan final words

4:30 p.m.

Rep. James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerLawmakers put spotlight on youth homelessness The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran Live coverage: House Oversight examines Trump family separation policy MORE (R-Ky.) took his last question to allow Homan final words to the committee.

"You've been cut off today. I'm very sorry a member on the other side questioned your integrity," said Comer, in reference to Rep. Jesús Garcia (D-Ill.). 

"I served my country for 34 years," said Homan. "My job as a law enforcement is to execute a mission."

Homan repeated his appeal to tighten asylum restrictions but said Border Patrol jails are inadequate for family detention.

"My heart breaks for them. Border Patrol jails were not built for vulnerable populations like women and children," he said.

But he also asked Congress to lay off immigration enforcement officers. 

"Stop the vilification of the men and women who are doing the best they can under very difficult circumstances," said Homan.

— Rafael Bernal 

Lawyer says shelter conditions are unlike anything she has ever seen

4:24 p.m.

Mukherjee said she's never seen conditions like the ones at the Clint, Texas, detention facility.

"For nearly a decade, as the committee knows, there were no reports of deaths in immigration custody," she said.

"This is different than anything I've ever seen before."

— Rafael Bernal 

Homan, Nagda clarify detention costs per day

4:20 p.m.

Homan and Nagda agreed on a point of clarification made for Cummings. 

Cummings was questioning Costello on whether she would be surprised that migrant detentions cost $300 per day, per person.

Costello ultimately said she would be surprised, but Homan interceded to clarify that the $300 figure is applicable to ICE custody, including specialized child healthcare and mental healthcare, not necessarily to Border Patrol facilities.

Nagda asked to speak following Homan, just to say she believed Homan's statement to be accurate.

"Wow," said Cummings, "that's a first."

— Rafael Bernal 

Cummings intervenes after Homan, Rep. Garcia get into heated exchange

3:55 p.m.

Homan exploded upon questioning from Garcia.

García rattled off a series of apparently rhetorical questions, not waiting for Homan's answer, eventually asking if Homan gave less value to immigrant children because of the color of their skin.

"First of all, your comments are disgusting," yelled Homan.

"I served my country for 35 years and yes I held a 5-year-old boy in my arms," he added, in reference to a case where Homan discovered a tractor trailer full of dead migrants in Texas.

Ranking member Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMeadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader House Republicans want details on Democrats' trips to Mexico GOP lawmakers, states back gunmaker in Sandy Hook appeal MORE (R-Ohio) came to Homan's defense, criticizing Garcia's speech, saying, "the gentleman ripped off about seven different questions designed to go after the character of Mr. Homan."

Cummings interjected himself into the heated exchange.

"It's my time now!" Cummings said. "First of all, I'm going to have civility in my hearings," Cummings said, but he was interrupted by Jordan, who was trying to advocate for Homan to be given time to respond.

"No! I have the floor!" Cummings said, trying to silence the interruptions. "I have been very courteous, and very kind," he said, before allowing Homan to respond to Garcia's allegations.

Once order was restored, Cummings gave Homan an opportunity to make his case.

"No one in this room has seen what I've seen in my career," said Homan.

"If you want to legalize illegal immigration, good luck with that," he added.

— Rafael Bernal and Nathaniel Weixel 

Ocasio-Cortez presses Homan on zero-tolerance memo

3:40 p.m.

Ocasio-Cortez pressed Homan on his role in the family separation policy, producing a memo where he recommended zero-tolerance to then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenWhite House fires DHS general counsel: report Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network DOJ to Supreme Court: Trump decision to end DACA was lawful MORE.

Ocasio-Cortez showed a memo dated April 23, 2018, signed by Homan, then-U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Francis Cissna, and then-CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, recommending Nielsen "to pursue prosecution of all amenable adults who cross our boder illegally ... including those presenting with a family units between ports of entry." 

"Is this correct, did you sign this memo?" asked Ocasio-Cortez. 

"I don't see it," Homan said from the witness table. Once provided a copy of the memo, Homan said he'd signed the document, but had not authored it.

Ocasio-Cortez then asked if he stood by the recommendation on the memo.

"I gave Secretary Nielsen numerous recommendations on how to secure the border and save lives," said Homan.

Homan added that he had recommended the zero-tolerance policy, which led to family separations.

But Homan said family separations under zero-tolerance were no different in his view than separations due to criminal arrests of adults in custody of a minor, regardless of citizenship.

— Rafael Bernal 

Cummings warns lawmakers to be careful in discussing colleagues' motives

3:33 p.m.

Cummings admonished lawmakers in the room to "be careful" about how they talk about the motives of their colleagues.

"I believe that everyone is operating in good faith, and I just want us to be very careful with that,"  he said.

His comments come after Rep. Mark GreenMark GreenInterior gains new watchdog We need a new structure to secure our border Tackling China in modern Cold War MORE (R-Tenn.) accused Democrats of engaging in theatrics and said they would rather blame President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE than acknowledge that there is a crisis at the border.

— Nathaniel Weixel 

GOP Rep. Green compares attacks on immigration agents to soldiers returning from Vietnam

3:28 p.m.

Green, who earlier attended a Democratic aide who passed out in the room, compared the morale issues among immigration agents to the plight of returning Vietnam veterans in the 1960s.

"In the 1960s, liberals called our soldiers coming back from Vietnam baby killers, they spat in their face," said Green.

Green said Congress needs to assign even more resources to the crisis and accused the Democrats of engaging in "theatrics."

— Rafael Bernal

Tlaib says agents told her 'stop sending money,' separation policy isn't working

3:20 p.m.

Tlaib tells the committee an agent told her, "Stop sending money, it's not working."

Another agent, said Tlaib, told her the separation policy isn't working. 

"We talk about the dehumanization of the children, but there is also some stress. I can feel it from you, Mr. Homan, right now," she said. 

"I'm not blaming the agents, I'm blaming the broken immigration system, just like you are," added Tlaib.

— Rafael Bernal 

Democratic rep presses Homan on family separations

3:05 p.m.

Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Polling director: Young voters swayed by health care, economy, gun control Lawmakers grill manufacturers over 'forever chemicals' contamination MORE (D-Calif.) pressed Homan on his position on family separations, but Homan said lawyers advised him not to opine on the matter outside of a court setting. 

Hill then asked Homan whether he would return to work for the administration after President Trump recently tapped him to return as “border czar.”

"I have not accepted any position with the administration," said Homan.

But Homan also refused to rule out the possibility of returning to public service. 

"I came back from retirement once," he added.

— Rafael Bernal 

Homan says Congress needs to do its job to make the border safer

3 p.m.

A frustrated Homan said Congress isn't doing its job to make the border safer, and nobody is listening to the experts on how best to do it. 

"I'm the only one in this room who's worn the green uniform" of Border Patrol, he said.   

Homan decried what he said is the country's open border and the consequences of letting smugglers and cartels run wild. 

"I've found enough dead bodies in my day. I've got a stack of dead bodies here!" he said, holding up a stack of papers. "We've seen a lot of pictures today, but nobody wants to see these pictures!"

Homan implored lawmakers to act.

"It's like no one's listening! We can fix this! If Congress, they don't like what ICE and CBP is doing, then do your job! Fix it!" he said.

— Nathaniel Weixel

GOP rep upset with Tlaib for saying the term 'illegal immigrant' should be avoided

2:58 p.m. 

Comer took umbrage to a statement by Tlaib in her opening testimony during the first panel, in which she asked the committee to avoid the term "illegal immigrant."

Comer said his constituents in Kentucky find it offensive to not use the term to describe undocumented immigrants.

"Someone who is in the country unlawfully is, in fact, an illegal," said Comer.

— Rafael Bernal

DHS inspector general says there has not been enough time to appropriate emergency funds

2:50 p.m.

Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiThe Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? House committee launches investigation into Transportation Secretary Chao Hotel industry mounts attack on Airbnb with House bill MORE (D-Ill.) pressed Costello, from the DHS office of inspector general, on whether conditions have improved since emergency funds were approved.

Costello said there had not been enough time to execute the funds or finish research on what improvements are needed, which Krishnamoorthi found "unacceptable."

— Rafael Bernal

Rep. Connolly yells at Homan: ‘You're not at the border’

2:45 p.m.

Rep Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHistory in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week Democrat grills DHS chief over viral image of drowned migrant and child Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp MORE (D-Va.) blew up at Homan, who wanted to comment on an exchange between Connolly and the other witnesses on the professionalism of border agents.

"I'm not calling on you, sir!" said Connolly

"Of course not," said Homan.

"This is my time! You're not at the border!" yelled Connolly.

— Rafael Bernal

Homan slams Democrats for language added to funding bill

2:40 p.m.

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinThis week: Congress returns for first time since mass shootings Trump probes threaten to overshadow Democrats' agenda House Democrats planning to hold hearings regarding Trump's role in hush-money payments: report MORE (D-Md.) said the Department of Health and Human Services needs to rescind a policy that requires it to share the names of any potential family members of unaccompanied children with DHS, where the information is then used to deport those people, sometimes before they can take custody of the children. 

ICE used information from HHS to arrest about 170 prospective sponsors in the past year. 

But Homan said the agreement isn't nearly strong enough.

"If you’re a parent and you hire a criminal organization to have your kid smuggled in trunk of a car or back of a tractor trailer, you should to come to ICE and get vetted," Homan said. "If we’re really here to talk about protecting children, the [policy] needs to be more strict."

Homan slammed language added by Democrats to the funding bill that reopened the government at the beginning of this year that prevents ICE from taking deportation actions against any sponsor of an unaccompanied child, potential sponsor or member of a household of a potential sponsor.

"You gotta hold them accountable," Homan said. He claimed there are record numbers of unaccompanied children surging across the border "because now these people can act with impunity, no consequence, no deterrence." 

— Nathaniel Weixel

Homan advocates for extended detention of families

2:35 p.m.

“The current crisis extends well beyond our southern border; it affects almost every major city in the United States. This isn’t just a border crisis, it’s a national crisis,” said Homan.

In his written testimony, Homan added that a July 2018 resolution by 9th Circuit Judge Dolly Gee to maintain migrant protections under what’s known as the Flores Settlement Agreement “did more harm to this country than any federal ruling that I am aware of in my three-decade career.”

Flores is a court settlement that mandates minimum standards for the detention of children and a maximum detention time of 20 days.

Homan panned the idea of limited detention for families in his testimony to the committee.

“If these families are in fact escaping fear and persecution from their government, there should be no reason not to detain them to plead their case to a judge,” he wrote.

“Being in a family residential center, safe from their country’s alleged oppression, should be acceptable,” he added. 

Homan had not orally repeated that portion of his written testimony, but during an exchange with Rep. Jim CooperJames (Jim) Hayes Shofner CooperThe evolution of Taylor Swift's political activism Live coverage: House Oversight examines Trump family separation policy House panel OKs space military branch MORE (D-Tenn.) he doubled down on his proposal for families to wait out their immigration cases in detention.

Homan further testified that nearly 90 percent of migrants seeking asylum pass their first screening, known as a “credible fear” interview, in part because they are advised on how to answer agents’ questions by “the cartels.”

But, Homan said, nearly 90 percent of migrants are not ultimately granted asylum by an immigration judge.

— Rafael Bernal

Raskin asks panelists if any believe separating families is good deterrence policy

2:20 p.m.

Raskin asked panelists whether anyone on the panel believes the separation of families is a good policy to prevent further migration of Central Americans.

None of the panelists responded.

Homan oversaw the interior enforcement agency during the time that the Trump administration enforced its zero tolerance policy, resulting in the separation of at least 2,800 children from their families.

— Rafael Bernal

Protesters interrupt Homan testimony

2:10 p.m.

Four protesters displayed posters with quotes from migrants as Homan began his testimony, and they were promptly requested to stop by Raskin.

Capitol Police asked the protesters to leave the room, and as they left Raskin interrupted Homan again to let police know the protesters could stay if they promised not to interrupt again.

The protesters still chose to leave the room.

— Rafael Bernal

Hearing gavels back in after series of House votes

2:05 p.m.

Raskin took over the reins as the committee gaveled back following House votes.

Raskin invited the members on the front row, Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib, to join him at the top of the dais.

Jordan rejoined the committee, along with four other Republican colleagues.

— Rafael Bernal

Homan complains about not being heard until after recess

11:40 a.m.

After hearing the testimony of Trump administration officials and lawyers who visited the detention centers, Cummings called to recess so members could go vote.

This prompted a brief complaint from Homan, who was ready to deliver his testimony.

"I'm sorry, this is the way it goes," said Cummings, adding that the committee will return to hear his testimony after the vote.

— Rafael Bernal

Pressley says she 'cannot unsee' or 'unfeel' what she saw at border facility

11:25 a.m.

Pressley said she "cannot unsee" or "unfeel" what she has seen and experienced while visiting the El Paso border facility, and does not want to, even though it robs of her of sleep and "peace of mind," because it pales in comparison to what the migrants had experienced. 

She said that during her visit she asked repeated questions, but Border Patrol agents did not know basic answers about the care of people in their custody. 

"This agency was never built, never designed, never trained for the care keeping of families," Pressley said.

She told the story of a woman with epilepsy who had her medication confiscated, and was worried that after lawmakers left the medicine would continue to be withheld as punishment.

Pressley said she feels a responsibility to speak for people who are not being heard, and that "we should be the ones begging for forgiveness" because of the way immigrants seeking a better life have been treated.

"While I am not fluent in Spanish, there was no barrier to understanding in that room. We speak the universal language of pain, of a mother's love, of justice. These women are not voiceless, but they are cruelly and criminally unheard," Pressley said. "Not today. Today Congress has an opportunity to listen and to act." 

— Nathaniel Weixel 

Tlaib tells panel 'nobody is illegal'

11:20 a.m.

Tlaib asked the panel not to use the word 'illegal' when talking about migrants because it's dehumanizing and disrespectful.

"Nobody is illegal," she said. 

Tlaib was on the verge of tears for most of her testimony, especially when she showed the committee a drawing from a 4-year-old she visited in a border camp in Clint, Texas.

"I ask you, beg you not to look away," she implored her colleagues.

— Nathaniel Weixel

Ocasio-Cortez says she believes migrants who said they were told to drink from toilet

11:10 a.m.

Ocasio-Cortez delivered an impassioned plea for immigration policy change, defending claims that migrants at the southern border have been subject to abuse by federal authorities.

She recounted a Congressional Hispanic Caucus-led visit this month to an immigrant detention center near El Paso, Texas, saying agents at the center asked visiting members not to interact with detainees.

But she said members asked for access to one of the cells after a brief altercation with agents and found issues with the conditions, including a now-infamous claim of detainees drinking from a toilet in a cell where the sink didn’t work.

“When these women tell me they were put into a cell and their sink was not working and the we tested the sink ourselves and the sink was not working and they were told to drink out of the toilet bowl, I believe them. I believe those women,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

Ocasio-Cortez added that she took objection to American flags displayed at detention centers where alleged abuses have taken place.

“What’s worse, Mr. Chairman, was the fact that there were American flags hanging all over these facilities,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “That children being separated from their parents in front of the American flag, that women were being called these names under an American flag, we cannot allow for this,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

— Rafael Bernal

Democratic aide passes out during Ocasio-Cortez's testimony

11:04 a.m.

A Democratic aide passed out on the right side of the room as Ocasio-Cortez delivered her testimony, interrupting the proceedings.

Other aides, Capitol Police and Green, a medical doctor, rushed to help.

"Representative Green, who is a medical doctor, just told me she'll be OK. Thank you, Rep. Green. It's good to have a doctor in the House," said Cummings.

— Rafael Bernal

Ocasio-Cortez asks to be sworn in

10:58 a.m.

Ocasio-Cortez asked to be sworn in, to which Cummings replied, "that's usually not necessary."

Cummings swore Ocasio-Cortez in anyway, asking her to stand up and raise her right hand before taking an oath.

— Rafael Bernal

Rep. Roy says he has seen a different situation at the border than what has been reported

10:49 a.m.

Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyTexas Republicans sound alarm about rapidly evolving state GOP lawmakers call for provisions barring DOD funds for border wall to be dropped Lawmakers mark anniversary of Martin Luther King 'I have a dream' speech MORE (R-Texas), in forceful testimony, gesticulating and almost yelling at times, said he has seen a vastly different situation at the border than what's been described in recent media reports. 

"I’ve been to the border multiple times and it didn’t just come recently putting on a show in front of fences for the media," Roy said.

He said Border Patrol agents are trying to do their job and take care of people to the best of their ability, making sure detention cells are clean, babies have diapers, and people have potable water. 

Meanwhile, Congress has failed to secure the border and has created the very "magnet" that draws migrants to the country and lets them get abused by cartels. "This body cowardly sits in the corner doing nothing about it."

Both parties have failed, Roy said.

"The GOP all too often want to stand at the Rio Grande with a 'no trespassing' sign while winking at immigrants with a 'help wanted' sign in the other."

Meanwhile Democrats "want to stand in front of chain link fences in an empty parking lot while making up hyperbole for clicks, Twitter followers and cynical politics," he said. 

After Roy finished his remarks, Jordan knocked on the dais and said, "well done," prompting a quick side-eye from Cummings.

— Nathaniel Weixel 

GOP Rep. Lesko wonders if she should be ‘jealous’ of Democrats press coverage

10:44 a.m.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) opened wondering whether she "should be jealous" of the attention given by press photographers to Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Tlaib and Escobar.

Lesko said she feels like she's living "in a parallel universe," where Democrats ignored the border crisis until it became politically salient for them to address it.

"They seem to think that all of a sudden, out of the blue, thousands of a legal immigrants showed up at the border and are just oblivious to the yearlong calls by Republicans, and some Democrats," said Lesko.

"What I believe is the crisis has been mounting for years, and people like me have sounded the alarm for years, over and over and over again and tried to pass legislation to fix it," she added.

— Rafael Bernal 

GOP Rep. Cloud: Congress has allowed drug smuggling, human trafficking at the border

10:42 a.m.

Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) said Congress has failed in its duty to adequately fund border security, and has allowed cartels to engage in drug smuggling and human trafficking. He attacked Democrats for calling the situation a "manufactured crisis."

"Many members of Congress would rather talk about a problem rather than fix it," Cloud said.

Cloud said the current border facilities are not designed to handle the massive numbers of migrants trying to cross into the country, and border patrol and ICE agents are doing the best job they can.

He noted the district he represents is two hours from the border with Mexico.

"If fixing this crisis were left up to Texas we would have done it several years ago," Cloud said.

— Nathaniel Weixel

GOP Rep. Biggs defends border agents

10:40 a.m.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), as the first witness to testify, called attention to his knowledge of the border and spoke out in defense of border agents.

Biggs said family separations happen before migrants reach the border, accusing migrant families of allowing their children to be taken by nonrelatives to claim asylum as family units.

"They've been separated from their families when their parents allow them taken by human trafficking cartels, to create a family in order to get more favorable treatment," said Biggs.

Biggs also went after Democrats, saying Republicans warned of a crisis long before the House majority took up the case.

"We were urging immediate action because the circumstances were horrible. They were overcrowded, they were horrible. There was clean water, there still is clean water, there was food," said Biggs.

— Rafael Bernal

Jordan hits Democrats for not holding hearing earlier

10:25 a.m.

The committee's top Republican, Jordan, burst out of the gate on the offensive.

He called Democrats' lack of attention to border security "astonishing."

"For a year now Republicans had been warning about the crisis and working hard to find solutions," said Jordan.

Jordan chastised Cummings for not holding a border hearing before July, criticizing the fact that the committee heard testimony from former Trump lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenNew York attorneys subpoena eight years of Trump tax returns: report Eric Holder says Trump is subject to prosecution after leaving office Aggrieved Trump rips Dems for 'sad' impeachment effort MORE in February.

"Instead of giving a platform to a convicted felon we could've come here and addressed this," said Jordan.

Jordan then took a shot at Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib, who opposed the supplemental border emergency funding passed last month.

"Despite the size and scope of the crisis even this funding bill was not supported by some Democrats including some testifying today,"  said Jordan.

— Rafael Bernal

Cummings hits administration for ignoring information requests in opening statement

10:18 a.m.

In his opening remarks, Cummings called out the Trump administration for not responding to congressional requests for information on family separations.

He thanked Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsGOP struggles with retirement wave Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing Meadows, Cotton introduce bill to prevent district judges from blocking federal policy changes MORE (R-N.C.) for joining in a letter to the administration, which Cummings says was ignored.

"Not a single word, not a single syllable," he said.

Cummings said Republicans may have been "fine" with being ignored by the administration, but now things are different.

"That was their watch. This is our watch," Cummings said.

Cummings pointed to the statistics of at least 18 toddlers separated from their families as evidence of wrongdoing by the administration.

"Something's wrong with that picture," he said.

Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Pressley and Roy joined the witness table as Cummings delivered his opening remarks.

— Rafael Bernal and Nathaniel Weixel

Cummings begins hearing with warning to attendees, protesters

10:12 a.m.

Cummings has started the hearing with a stern warning to attendants and protesters.

"We welcome you and respect your right to be here, we also ask in turn for your respect as we proceed with business of this committee today," said Cummings.

"It is the intent of this committee to proceed with this hearing without any disruptions," said Cummings, adding that disruptions would result in Capitol Police restoring order.

— Rafael Bernal

Four GOP lawmakers added to witness table

10:10 a.m.

The committee added four Republican lawmakers to the witness table at the last minute.

Biggs, Cloud, Lesko and Rep. Chip Roy (Texas) will join the Democrats in testifying.

Biggs, Cloud and Lesko have taken their places beside Escobar, the committee room is silent in waiting for the proceedings to start.

— Rafael Bernal

House report: Trump administration separated at least 18 immigrant infants and toddlers 

10:05 a.m.

Prior to the beginning of the hearing, the committee released a report saying at least 18 migrant infants and toddlers under the age of 2 were separated from their parents at the southern border.

Those infants and toddlers were kept apart for 20 days to up to six months, the report found.

The report is based on data obtained through subpoenas of the Trump administration officials, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Among the details uncovered in the report, at least 241 separated children were kept in Border Patrol facilities longer than the 72 hours permitted by law. 

The report also found children were moved to multiple facilities. More than 400 children were moved to multiple Customs and Border Protection facilities, more than 80 children were moved to multiple HHS facilities, and at least five children were moved to multiple Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities. 

— Nathaniel Weixel

Spectators line the hall just ahead of hearing's start

10 a.m.

More than 100 expectant spectators are lined up outside the committee room, which is almost full around the hearing's scheduled start. 

Committee Republicans are gaggling among themselves behind the dais. 

Escobar is the first witness to walk in, she greeted reporters before taking her place at the witness table as Cummings calls the room to order.

— Rafael Bernal

Border patrol chief was previously a member of controversial Facebook group

9:51 a.m.

Hours before the hearing, investigative outlet The Intercept reported that Carla Provost, the chief of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), was previously a member of a Facebook group containing sexist and racist posts from agents. She posted in the group three months after her appointment in August. 

Though Provost herself was not linked to any offensive material, the revelation emphasizes the ties between the highest ranks of CBP and the offending Facebook group, which has sparked condemnations and questions from top lawmakers. 

"This is why I have requested a full investigation into this matter,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonTop Democrat demands answers from CBP on security of biometric data Hillicon Valley: 8chan owner defends platform before Congress | Facebook launches dating feature | New York City sues T-Mobile | Top NSA cyber official names ransomware as 2020 threat | Blue Dog Dems urge action on election security 8chan owner defends platform in testimony before Congress MORE (D-Miss.) said in a statement to The Intercept. “We need to know who in CBP leadership knew about these deplorable groups, when did they find out, and what action they took, if anything.”

Shortly after news broke of the CBP Facebook group, Provost responded with a statement calling the posts "completely inappropriate." 

"Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable," Provost said.

— Emily Birnbaum