Dems call for family reunification plan from Trump administration
House Democrats are demanding that the Trump administration release a plan to reunite immigrant parents and children separated at the southwest border as a result of the “zero-tolerance” policy.
Twenty-one members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a letter to administration officials Tuesday that it’s “deeply alarming” that they have no plans to reunite families or to provide separated parents and children with the means to communicate with each other.
“The Trump Administration created this family separation crisis and must show Congress how they intend to reunite thousands of children with their parents,” Hoyer said in a statement.
Since the zero-tolerance policy was enacted in April, more than 2,000 children were separated from their parents or guardians.
Trump last week issued an executive order mandating joint family detention in response to outrage over the separations. But under current law, minors can’t be detained for more than 20 days, raising questions about what will happen to detained families after that time period.
“The President’s executive order does nothing to solve this humanitarian crisis of his own making, and Administration officials need to articulate a real plan to do so,” Hoyer said. “In addition, they ought to appoint one federal official to oversee these efforts and provide Congress with daily status updates.”
In their letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Democrats also asked for statistics and information on the number of detained children, reunification efforts and the conditions of minors in detention.
“Some families have been waiting for months, desperate to hear news on their children and when they might be finally reunited,” said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), the CHC chair.
“Other parents have already been deported thousands of miles away with no information on their son or daughter’s well-being or location,” she added. “It is unconscionable to let these vulnerable children, mothers and fathers continue living in anguish and uncertainty.”
Under what’s known as the Flores Settlement Agreement, the same law that mandates the maximum 20-day detention, certain standards are set for detention of minors.
Under Trump’s executive order, the Justice Department is asking courts to revise or overturn Flores.
Two House Republican immigration measures — one of which failed last week, with the other scheduled for a vote Wednesday — would also eliminate the Flores agreement.