House panel demands answers from Trump administration on ‘zero tolerance’ family separation policy

A House panel sent a letter Friday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting he turn over documents related to the administration's "zero-tolerance" policy after the release of a memo showing the policy was discussed earlier than previously known.

A House panel sent a letter Friday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting he turn over documents related to the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy after the release of a memo showing the policy was discussed earlier than previously known.

The letter from the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations cites a 2017 draft memo released Thursday by Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley detailing plans to deter migrants, including the “zero-tolerance” policy. A new inspector general report also found that “thousands” more children had been separated than previously reported by the government.

The letter comes amid a week of back-to-back revelations about the administration’s policy that led to the separation of families apprehended at the US-Mexico border. It’s yet another example of how House Democrats intend to hold Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security accountable.

The panel — headed by Rep. Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado — has oversight authority over the Department of Health and Human Services among other agencies.

DeGette will hold a hearing soon in which more information about the policy is likely to come to light.

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