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Family Separation Hearing Thread⤵️
We’re here today in the first (!) oversight hearing regarding the Administration’s cruel, inhumane, and unlawful #FamilySeparation policy. Live-Tweets in the thread below. So far there is universal bipartisan agreement: #FamiliesBelongTogether
Today’s hearing is focused on how @HHSGov carried out its role to care for and ensure the safety of immigrant children. Neither DOJ nor DHS, who reportedly spawned the Administration’s #FamilySeparation policy, is represented here today.
Government Witnesses rise to be sworn in. This this the first time anyone in the federal government has testified in Congress under oath regarding #FamilySeparation
Ms. Larin is the first government witness to testify regarding the #FamilySeparation policy. Recounts how @DHSgov and DOJ originally denied the existence of a family separation policy after HHS officials saw a tenfold increase in separations.
Shocking facts: Those who devised the #FamilySeparation policy did not bother to tell the agency tasked with caring for the separated children until the memo became public in April 2018. #FamiliesBelongTogether
.@EnergyCommerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations leadership believes #FamiliesBelongTogether. Join them in demanding that the Trump administration reunites ALL families: actionnetwork.org/petitions/add-…
Key insight in Opening Statement from Ms. Maxwell:

“More children over a longer period of time were separated than was” widely known or acknowledged.

The lack of a database to identify and coordinate separations between @DHSgov & @HHSGov hinders counting the separated kids
Family Separation continues, according to Maxwell.
Commander White, Public Health Service MH official who previously worked at the unaccompanied migrant child office within the @HHSGov Office of Refugee Resettlement, delivers opening statement on #FamilySeparation

Lots of hand-wringing today about ORR’s role—blaming @DHSgov
In December 2018, 15,000 immigrant children were in ORR custody on any given night. A 100% increase.
Cmdr. White says ORR knew identity of “every one” of the 11800 kids in custody in June 2018. But NOT which of those kids had been separated, and who was part of the Class Action
Members will now begin with questions for the witnesses. Chairwoman @RepDianaDeGette asks whether @HHSGov Secretary Alex Azad was interviewed in the audits of agency’s #FamilySeparation response. Answer: No.
“It’s my understanding that the Secretary was not aware.” - Cmdr. White on whether Azar reached out to DOJ or @DHSgov on #FamilySeparation

“I do not believe that separation of children from their parents is in the best interests of the child.”
Consider that for just a moment: Zero (!) consultation with @HHSGov by the architects of the policy. Toxic, dark cruelty by those actors. And zero (!) complaints by the Secretary of the department tasked with protecting separated children’s best interests to the policy’s drafters
“We don’t have any authorities or equities in immigration enforcement.” - Cmdr. White on @HHSGov role in #FamilySeparation policy. ORR has over 10k immigrant kids in custody TONIGHT.

Cmdr. White says he learned about #FamilySeparation by TV in July.
@CBP @DOJ_EOIR @DHSgov @ICEgov officials repeatedly told Cdr. White that there was no policy of #FamilySeparation.

Consider that. The person overseeing the trauma-informed care of children torn from their parents was lied to by those responsible about the program’s existence.
Cdr. White says neither he nor anyone at ORR would have ever supported #FamilySeparation. Perhaps that’s why they were left out in the cold by @DHSgov and @TheJusticeDept
@FrankPallone asks Cdr. White what concerns he raised after former @DHSgov Sec. John Kelly announced in March 2017 the admin was considering #FamilySeparation

He raised 2 concerns:
1. It’s unlawful bc it’s inconsistent w the mandate to act in the best interests of the child
2. @HHSGov lacked the capacity to carry out the policy.
He raised his concerns about #familyseparation to Scott Lloyd, head of ORR, as well as @HHSGov lawyers
Rep. Burgess (R-TX) suggests @FrankPallone didn’t accompanied him on a delegation to understand the causes of child migrant crisis because “he had a cruise or something.” Bewildered looks from the Chairwoman.

#familyseparation oversight hearing means blaming migrants apparently
Shorter Burgess: You made us hurt you.
No questions from Rep. Burgess during question time. Wonder why . . .

@RepSchakowsky asks, and panel agrees that nobody in the US government knows how many children were separated from their parents. #FamilySeparation is
“state-sponsored child abuse” and “kidnapping”
@RepSchakowsky pressing on how to define who gets separated and what laws apply.
“Do we know how many children have been separated from their parents for a reason that was given?” @USGAO says they’re looking into it and will put out a report later this year.
Cdr. White says, basically, “those aren’t our cages” when asked about the rhetoric. @CBP gets a nod for its cages.

“Come and see” our shelters, says Cdr. White.

We’re old enough to remember when @SenJeffMerkley tried just that at a @SouthwestKey facility in the #RGV
The facility in an abandoned Wal-Mart originally put up blackout tape and called the cops on @SenJeffMerkley.

Still, every MOC should take Cdr. White up on his invitation to “come and see” what’s happening in @HHSGov child detention shelters.
“Every mother and every father should feel the hurt that these children went through” @CongressmanRuiz

“The consequences of separation for many children will be lifelong.” -Cdr. White
@CongressmanRuiz notes, and Cdr. White agrees, that #familyseparation retraumatized many children.

When Cdr. White voiced his concerns on the policy, he was told it didn’t exist.
@CongressmanRuiz asks Cdr. White whether @HHSGov asked kids on intake if they’d been separated. Answer: unclear.
@SusanWBrooks (R-IN) says she visited a @SouthwestKey facility she visited in the #RGV had 1379 boys 11-18 in their facility when she visited in July. Speaking about family separation in the past tense and blurring the lines between UAC kids / separated kids
@RepAnnieKuster “I have seen the cages. I have walked through the cages. I have seen the children cry. I have been with the mothers who had no idea where they children were taken . . . We were weeping . . . The guards were weeping . . . I met two mothers breastfeeding . . . Taken
“We have inflicted additional trauma on each and every one of those children.” - @RepAnnieKuster
Asks panel to promise that not a single child has had parental rights terminated on the grounds of abandonment or neglect due to #FamilySeparation
@RepMGriffith (R-VA) tried to get Cdr. White to say 5 of 6 remaining separated kids from Ms. L are “being held up” by the @ACLU. Suggests there’s a record of parents saying they don’t want their children back.

@KathyCastorFL asks Cdr. White for the receipts. How’d you express your concerns about #FamilySeparation
A: memos, emails pre-implementation. He’d left the agency by the time @HHSGov was given the task of caring for separated kids.
“The concerns that I had about separation were shared by every career member of my team.” -Cdr. White, responding to @USRepKCastor
Rep. Jeffrey Duncan inexplicably references sex traffic of UAC girls and sexual assault by “men in cities like Chicago and Atlanta”
Not exactly coded language.

Suggests DNA testing needed for all families to prevent sex trafficking.

“They have entered this nation illegally”
Rep. Duncan, while professing to care about #FamilySeparation, uses time to advocate for border wall.

“We need to build the wall for the children.”

Asks no questions. Says “it’s we’re focused on this issue.”

South Carolina rep focusing on slavery and human trafficking.
TFW you just used your 5 min to ask officials about #FamilySeparation to suggest “men in cities like Chicago and Atlanta” are disproportionately responsible for child sex trafficking and said “We need to build a wall for the children.”
* “it’s great”
.@RepPaulTonko asks Cdr. White about the planning process at @HHSGov. He responds that the reason reunification was possible was because of Judge Sabraw’s decision in the Ms. L decision.
.@RepMullin, a father of 5 kids including 2 adopted children. “Every child deserves a home and a loving parent.” #FamiliesBelongTogether
“So this was going on during the Obama Administration, too.” @RepMullin
Interrupts Cdr. White’s explanation of the four circumstances of #FamilySeparation to point out that safety of the children was the purpose of safety.
“Right now I have 6 [kids] living with me. 3 bio.”
.@ScottPetersSD asks Cdr. White about process for verifying separated kids who were released prior to the Ms. L case have been reunified, says ICE agents would have to go to homes and arrest them.
.@joekennedy asks Cdr. White whether he has any idea why his concerns weren’t heeded. “I was told that #FamilySeparation wasn’t going to happen.”
As @joekennedy asks Cdr. White about conditions in child detention centers, where nearly 15,000 children may be detained, another member engages in other important business.
Discussing her trip to an ORR facility in the San Diego, @RepBarragan describes traumatized, quiet children who were despondent and just wanted to see their parents. #FamiliesBelongTogether #EndFamilySeparation
Staggering: Cdr. White testifies “there is no process” for a parent to appeal “for-cause” #FamilySeparation @RepBarragan has introduced legislation to provide long-term care for separated, traumatized children.
.@RepBarragan notes that @SecNielsen lied to @HomelandDems about the extent of #FamilySeparation and the existence of the policy
.@RepDarrenSoto asks Cdr. White whether @HHSGov implemented additional biometrics checks in 2018 to add all members of household.
Describing a visit to an ORR shelter, @RepDarrenSoto says he saw 1100 kids in a facility designed for 500.
“That is probably the worst thing anyone can do to a young brain. . . . That trauma lasts a lifetime.” Rep. Tony Cárdenas, discussing the consensus literature on #FamilySeparation
Cdr. White does not know whether @HHSGov gave training to @CBP trauma training for dealing with separated kids in response to @CardenasforCA qs. Says he personally participated in none.
.@RepSarbanes asks Ms. Larin whether @USGAO saw in its audit whether there was an “official” No-Family-Separation and an unofficial #FamilySeparation policy being done “on the down low.”

Distinguishes Admin practice of policymaking by Tweet vs concerted, shadow policymaking.
Ms. Larin notes @USGAO found two artifacts of what @RepSarbanes describes: 1 - an April 2017 AG memo and 2 - a pilot #FamilySeparation policy in El Paso
Chairwoman @RepDianaDeGette asks Cdr. White about the means by which children who are still separated could be reunified with their parents. “The best way to get that would be to pose that question to the @DHSgov.” “We are not capacitated” to reunify kids #FamilySeparation
🚨Final bombshel from first panel:

The Memo Cdr. White referenced writing to his bosses explaining that #FamilySeparation was illegal and impossible to do humanely was not provided to @RepDianaDeGette and @FrankPallone in response to their Jan. 19 request to @HHSGov
Wonder why
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