Jayapal questions Whitaker over 'horror' of immigrant family separations

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalGoogle to allow employees to sue over discrimination, harassment Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Democrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill MORE (D-Wash.) carried out a passionate questioning of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker over the Justice Department’s separation of migrant families at the border, asking him if he “understood the magnitude” of the policy.

“Our country is still reeling from the horror of family separations that occurred at the border,” Jayapal said at the opening of her line of questioning.

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She said that the Justice Department had “imposed a zero-humanity policy” at the border for families trying to seek asylum, instead of offering them protections within the country.

“The truth is, we may not know how many children were separated from their parents,” she said.

 

Whitaker at one point answered by claiming that there “was no family separation policy.”

“There was a zero tolerance policy,” he said.

"I’m sorry, this has been given four Pinocchios multiple times,” Jayapal replied, referring to The Washington Post’s metric for fact-checking.

The progressive lawmaker later pressed Whitaker over the tracking of migrant parents and children who had been separated at the border, asking if the Justice Department had been tracking the guardians separated from children as they were being prosecuted.

“I don’t believe we were tracking that,” Whitaker replied.

“You were not tracking that, that is the correct answer,” Jayapal said.

“So these parents were in your custody, your attorneys are prosecuting them, and your department was not tracking parents who were separated from their children,” the Democrat said.

“Do you know what kind of damage has been done to children and families across this country? Children who will never get to see their parents again?” she asked to a silent room.

“Do you understand the magnitude of that?”

“I understand that the policy of zero tolerance,” Whitaker began to say.

“Has the Justice Department started tracking parents and legal guardians who were separated from their children at the border?” Jayapal asked, cutting him off.

“I appreciate your passion for this issue, I know you’ve been very involved on the front lines,” the acting attorney general said.

“This is about more than my passion this," Jayapal fired back. "This is about the childrens' future, Mr. Whitaker."

Jayapal is one of several Democrats who has continued to be vocal over the separation of migrant families at the border under the Trump administration's since-ended "zero tolerance" policy at the southern border.

A Department of Health and Human Services inspector general report recently showed that the Trump administration separated thousands more migrant children from their parents than was previously known.