House Democrats will subpoena Trump administration over family separations
The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Tuesday voted to subpoena the Trump administration over documents related to the policy of separating children from families at the southern border.
This will be the first subpoena issued since Democrats took control of the House and promised to hold President Trump accountable. The vote was bipartisan, with Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas) voting with all the Democrats.
Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said the committee has been asking the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services (HHS) for information for seven months.
“I did not make this decision lightly,” Cummings said. “I believe it is a true national emergency when our own government rips vulnerable children from the arms of their mothers and fathers with no plans to reunite them. That is government-sponsored child abuse.”
The committee is asking for details on the children separated, the location where they were held and the name of the facility and details on the parents including whether they were deported, as well as information on efforts to reunite children and parents.
Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the committee’s top Republican, said he didn’t think subpoenas should be necessary, because the agencies are cooperating. Jordan said the committee has been given hundreds of pages of documents in response to previous requests, and the administration should be granted more time.
HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said the agency “has communicated regularly and in good faith” with Oversight Committee members, and has provided 792 pages of documents related to the Committee’s request. Oakley said HHS has also offered committee staff a review of the Office of Refugee Resettlement portal, which is used to help track the children in HHS custody.
But Cummings said the documents were not relevant and are incomplete.
“The information we got was not one name, not one number,” Cummings said. “Zilch.”
More than 2,600 children were separated from their parents under the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which called for the criminal prosecution of all adult migrants who were detained after trying to cross the country’s southern border.
The policy created a massive outcry, and the backlash forced the administration to walk it back just three months later.
The administration has spent more than $80 million in the past year to house, care for and reunite thousands of migrant children separated from their parents as a result of the policy.
A report from an HHS watchdog last month that found the Trump administration separated thousands more migrant children from their parents than was previously known. Those separations occurred before the “zero tolerance” policy was implemented.