Cantwell, Senate Democrats Call for Judiciary Committee Hearing on Family Separation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and eight of her Senate Democratic colleagues wrote a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), calling for him to hold an oversight hearing on the Trump Administration’s inability to reunite immigrant children with their families. The letter is in response to the failed “Senators Only” call last Friday with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who sidestepped questions about the department’s reunification process and praised the haphazard work the department has done so far.

“We are deeply troubled by the Trump Administration’s utter lack of preparedness to reunite children that it separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border and the callous manner in which it is treating the issue,” the senators wrote in the letter to Senator Grassley. “The purpose of the call appeared to be for the Secretary to congratulate himself and the Administration for what a good job that the Department of Health and Human Services is doing”

Since the introduction of the Trump Administration’s failed “zero-tolerance” policy, more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents. Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw gave the administration 14 days to reunite parents with children under 5, and 30 days to reunite parents with all other children. On Monday, the Department missed their first deadline.

“We are gravely concerned that the Administration is unprepared, and possibly unwilling, to handle this crisis in a timely, thoughtful, and humane manner,” the senators continued. “Although a federal court has ordered the government to reunite separated children with their parents, there have been reports that the Administration is trying to be released of its obligation to reunite children whose parents the Administration has already deported.“

In addition to Senator Cantwell, the letter was also signed by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The full text of the letter is available HERE.