Trump administration officials point fingers on family separations

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler slammed the Trump administration's controversial policy that separated thousands of children from their families, as Democrats take their first major opportunity to grill department leaders on how children were treated.

During a House hearing Tuesday, Trump administration officials drew clear distinctions about each agency’s role in the controversial “zero tolerance” immigration policy that resulted in separating thousands of children from their families — seemingly punting responsibility on the different facets of the policy which continues to have repercussions nearly a year later.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler kicked off the hearing by slamming the administration.

“When a stranger rips a child from a parent’s arms without any plan to reunify them, it is called kidnapping,” he said.

Nadler’s speech set the tone for the hearing, which is expected to be filled with testy exchanges between lawmakers and administration officials.

House Democrats have long denounced “zero tolerance,” which called for the criminal prosecution of adults who illegally crossed the border and as a result, separated families.

Administration officials explained present day challenges, like an influx in family apprehensions, how the “zero tolerance” policy was rolled out, and defended efforts reunify families.

That provided little reprieve to Nadler, who immediately questioned Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost about the consequences of separations. Provost said there were “lessons learned,” but also said that it’s not Border Patrol’s responsibility to reunify families, pointing to the Department of Health and Human Services instead.

Health and Human Services, however, did not develop the policy — it was directed by the Justice Department.

House Democrats approve subpoenas

Nadler also blasted the administration for not turning over sufficient records in a timely manner.

“Even now months after the height of the crisis created by the implementation of its cruel and inhumane immigrant policies, basic questions remain unanswered,” he said. “In part that is because the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, until last night, stonewalled the legitimate requests by this committee that were made over six weeks ago.”

He added: “That is absolutely inexcusable.”

A separate committee, the House Oversight Committee, voted Tuesday to issue subpoenas related to family separation.

The vote was bipartisan with Republicans Justin Amash of Michigan and Chip Roy of Texas voting with the Democrats. The subpoenas will be the first issued in the committee in the 116th Congress.

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