RANKING MEMBER CRITICIZES CHAIRMAN FOR NOT “PUTTING BILLS FORWARD”
by Sharon Rondeau
Live streaming from the committee’s website is here: https://judiciary.house.gov/legislation/hearings/oversight-family-separation-and-us-customs-and-border-protection-short-term
The hearing will encompass five witnesses, of whom Commander Jonathan White was speaking shortly before 11:00 a.m. EDT.
The meeting was opened by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) in Nadler’s absence at the time.
White said that currently, 2,814 children were in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services as of June 2018. The ACLU sued on behalf of the children, White said, and as a consequence, HHS is in the process of either reunifying children with their parents or placing them with sponsoring families if it is determined they cannot return to their parents.
In his opening statement, witness Joseph B. Edlow, who serves as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice, reviewed the Trump administration’s efforts last year to enforce a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding illegal border-crossers, of whom there was a dramatic increase since last October.
The final witness, Diana R. Shaw, said that Border Patrol detention centers she recently visited were overcrowded and that unaccompanied children were at times kept in BP custody “more than two weeks” when the HHS standard is 72 hours.
She said that chicken pox, scabies, and flu have posed a health concern to both detainees and Border Patrol agents. She said that the Border Patrol “requires immediate assistance” in order to accommodate the number of border-crossers.
At 11:07 a.m., Nadler recognized himself to pose questions and criticized situations he cited involving children “separated” from their parents, directing a question as to whether or not “these tactics” were “how Border Patrol agents were told to implement the policy” to Brian S. Hastings, Chief, Law Enforcement Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an exchange that quickly became contentious.
At 11:13 a.m., Nadler accused Hastings of “kidnapping the child” when parents are deported but a child remains in the U.S.
At 11:14, Nadler asked how special-needs children are accommodated by the Border Patrol, to which Hastings said that HHS would be “alerted to the special needs.”
Nadler stated that he possesses “reports” showing that disabled children were given no warning that their parents were to be removed from the country.
At 11:15, ranking member Doug Collins spoke, accusing Nadler of “giving out-of-context” information regarding child-parent separations. He said that “treating them well and having good conditions” does not solve the actual “issue.” “If you wanna keep kids with unfit parents…then maybe we need to talk about something different,” Collins said, criticizing Nadler of allegedly “holding hearings” without passing meaningful legislation.
“This committee’s better than this,” Collins contended at 11:18, urging the “markup” of proposed bills from members of both parties. He said Nadler should “put bills forward” rather than simply hold hearings, issue press releases and “get the Twitter going.”