A trio of senior U.S. lawmakers who oversee the agency responsible for caring for the migrant children who are separated from their parents at the border are demanding to know what the Trump administration is doing to locate the parents of 545 kids who reportedly still remain separated from their families more than two years after the administration’s abhorrent family-separation policy ended.
In a letter sent on October 23, to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, U.S. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO), Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) – the chairs of three key House panels that oversee HHS – demanded that the administration provide them more information on the specific steps being taken to reunite the children with their parents.
“This is appalling,” the lawmakers wrote. “We want to know what actions, if any, the Administration is taking to assist in locating and reuniting these families that have now been separated for more than two years.”
DeGette, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations panel, has been spearheading House Democrats’ investigation into the Trump administration’s family-separation policy since taking over as head of the panel at the start of last year.
“Unlike many of the Trump Administration’s scandals, this unfathomable nightmare is still unfolding more than two years later, and continuing to afflict undue harm on its victims. As a result, hundreds of children are still living a nightmare in which they are going to sleep each night without their parent.”
In fact, in February 2019, the subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the long-term effects the administration’s child-separation policy can have on children taken from their parents for even just a short amount of time. According to reports, many of the more than 500 children who have still not yet been reunited with their parents have been separated for more than two years.
“As we heard in testimony from child development experts and the independent Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the traumatic psychological effects of separations are expected to be long-lasting for the children and parents who endured even a brief separation,” the lawmakers wrote. “Unlike many of the Trump Administration’s scandals, this unfathomable nightmare is still unfolding more than two years later, and continuing to afflict undue harm on its victims. As a result, hundreds of children are still living a nightmare in which they are going to sleep each night without their parent.”
In addition to demanding more information on what the administration is doing to reunite the still-separated families, the lawmakers want to know when the children were separated, how long they have been in U.S. custody and what they are being told by officials regarding the whereabouts of their parents.
A copy of the lawmakers’ letter to HHS is available here.
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