Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has taken the first steps for his powerful committee to fully investigate crimes committed by Donald Trump and members of his administration connected with the kidnapping of children from their parents at the Mexican border.
Trump, along with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, last spring began a so-called zero tolerance immigration policy that required undocumented immigrants seeking asylum to be immediately arrested and thrown into jail.
After the adults were incarcerated, any children with them were taken away and also incarcerated. The practice led to an international outcry from the United Nations, the Pope, Amnesty International and many human rights groups.
In letters released Monday, Nadler wrote: “There remain many unanswered questions about the development and execution of the Trump Administration’s family separation or ‘zero-tolerance’ policy.”
Nadler’s letters are some of the first oversight efforts to be begun by the Judiciary Committee since Democrats took control of the House on January 3. They show that investigation of Trump’s family separation practices, and the harm done to children, is a top priority for House Democrats.
The letters were sent by the chairman to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Nadler wrote to demand that each agency turn over to his committee any and all information the have about the development and execution of the “zero tolerance” policy, migrant detention, and related policies on the Mexican border. He also demanded that they preserve all of their documents and records concerning these policies.
In his letter to HHS Nadler also set forth his questions about how the Trump administration had identified, tracked and reunited family members who were separated during the months the zero-tolerance policy was in effect.
Under Trump’s program thousands of migrant children were detained by HHS in separate facilities sometimes hundreds of miles from their parents.
In addition to “zero tolerance,” Nadler also noted the recent deaths in U.S. custody of two young Guatemalan migrant children, the first child deaths in Border Patrol Custody in a decade.
On December 8, Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died in a hospital two days after she was taken to a Border Patrol station.
And on Christmas Eve, 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo died after being hospitalized in New Mexico with flu-like symptoms, high fever and vomiting. He had been hospitalized, released and then returned to the hospital.