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 CummingsDems zero in on Trump’s alleged conflicts of interest Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue On The Money: Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia | Treasury releases guidance on 'opportunity zone' program | Maxine Waters gets company in new GOP line of attack MORE (Md.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Dems blast Trump for 'conflating' Chinese, Russian election interference claims Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips MORE (Miss.), Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottDems want to hold officials’ feet to the fire on ObamaCare Healthy business vs healthy people — how will this administration address the two? Washington turns focus to child nutrition MORE (Va.) and Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneDems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Hillicon Valley: Facebook rift over exec's support for Kavanaugh | Dem worried about Russian trolls jumping into Kavanaugh debate | China pushes back on Pence House Democrat questions big tech on possible foreign influence in Kavanaugh debate 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 TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' 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.