The House Oversight Committee voted Tuesday to subpoena the Trump administration for the first time over access to information regarding the separation of immigrant families at the southern border.
“I did not make this decision lightly,” committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-M.D.) said in his opening statement Tuesday. “I believe this is a true national emergency. When our own government rips vulnerable children, toddlers, even infants from the arms of their mothers and fathers with no plans to reunite them — that is government-sponsored child abuse.”
Cummings reiterated that his effort to get information from the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and The Department of Health and Human Services on family separation has been a seven-month battle.
“Further delay is not an option,” he stated. “Every day that these children wait for their parents causes damage.”
Watch Rep. Cummings’ full opening statement below:
WATCH NOW: Chairman @RepCummings opening statement at today’s business meeting about a true national emergency—reuniting immigrant children with their families as expeditiously as possible. pic.twitter.com/v5jQmTW7ib
— Oversight Committee (@OversightDems) February 26, 2019
According to the Associated Press, the committee is seeking information from the three departments about the children separated, the location and facilities where they were held, the details on their parents, information on efforts to restore children to their parents, and whether parents were deported.
The ranking Republican member of the Oversight Committee Rep. Jim Jordans argued that the departments were already cooperating with Democrats’ requests and that a subpoena was unnecessary.
“We should not rush to compel documents from the departments, especially when they have sought to comply with your request voluntarily,” he wrote in a letter to Cummings.
But Cummings said Tuesday the information they received is not what they asked for.
“Instead, they produce a mix of publically available court filings, redacted or aggregated data, or other non-responsive documents,” Cummings argued.
He added that “withholding this information frustrates and obstructs our efforts to help reunite these children with their families.”
Cummings took a direct hit at Trump throughout his statement, often calling the family separation issue a “national emergency” spiting the president’s recent decision to declare a national emergency to get funding to build a wall on the southern border.
“Ladies and gentleman this is a national emergency,” Cummings said. “This is a national emergency and time is of the essence and so I ask you to put partisanship aside and join us in obtaining these documents.”