House Democrats have sent a letter demanding hearings in all relevant committees on Trump’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border.
Here is the letter that was written by House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee Ranking Member José E. Serrano (D-NY), Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Homeland Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA):
Dear Chairmen Frelinghuysen, Culberson, Cole, and Yoder:
In recent days, we have witnessed heartbreaking images of children separated from their families as a result of the Trump administration’s family separation policy. These images have shocked the conscience of Americans across the political spectrum.
It is now obvious that family separation is not required by any federal law or regulation. Instead, the separation of more than 2,300 children from their families is the direct result of President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting all border crossers — including families who may have valid asylum claims and families who have turned themselves in voluntarily.
Further, after making statements directing asylum seekers to enter the country through ports of entry, there have been confirmed reports of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers denying entry to asylum seekers, citing a limitation on processing capacity.
While we have been heartened that several prominent Republicans have criticized the Trump administration’s approach to family separation, it is time for action. Instead of blithely deferring to the Trump administration or issuing empty condemnations, Congress should exercise its Constitutional prerogatives and conduct rigorous oversight of this cruel policy.
As you know, the Appropriations Committee has a unique role in providing resources for the Department of Homeland Security, which detains asylum seekers, the Department of Justice, which is executing the Trump-Sessions prosecutions of asylum seekers, and the Department of Health and Human Services, which cares for the minor children who have been separated from their parents.
We urge you to immediately schedule a joint hearing to provide oversight on the use of federal funds for the Trump-Sessions policy of prosecuting asylum seekers and the resulting family separations and to examine the impact on minor children who have been separated from their parents.
The ongoing separation of families and subsequent detention of minor children is immoral and unacceptable. It is time for Congress to act, beginning with a hearing on these critical issues. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.
House Democrats are doing all that they can to turn up the heat
The demand for hearings places the Republican majority in a no-win situation. If they deny the request, they will be siding with Trump and a wildly unpopular policy. If they hold hearings, they will be shining a light on the policy, forcing the Trump administration to go on the record, and they will also have to make their positions clear on the issue. Republicans have no way out of this.
The action that Democrats referred to in their letter goes beyond investigation. Contrary to the White House lie, Congress can’t change the policy implementation by Trump. They can pass legislation prohibiting child separations, but Trump would have to sign that bill or it would need to have a veto-proof majority to pass. What Congress could do to send a loud and clear message to Trump by voting to cut off the funding for the policy.
Hearings are a way of turning up the heat, and the Republicans accountable for a policy that they are too cowardly to publicly condemn.
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