Two Republicans joined Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee in voting to subpoena Trump administration officials for documents related to the "zero tolerance" policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, which resulted in the separation of over 2,600 children from families trying to enter illegally.
Just in! The Democrat-controlled House Oversight Committee officially subpoenaed the Trump administration Tuesday or documents related to family separations, the result of the Justice Department's "zero tolerance" policy, which was implemented in April 2018.— Anna Giaritelli (@Anna_Giaritelli) February 26, 2019
“I did not make this decision lightly,” Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said. “I believe it is a true national emergency when our own government rips vulnerable children from the arms of their mothers and fathers with no plans to reunite them. That is government-sponsored child abuse.”
Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Chip Roy (R-TX) voted with their Democratic colleagues. Amash has also spoken out against Trump's national emergency declaration to build a border wall and is the only Republican to co-sponsor the resolution to block Trump's order. Lawmakers will vote on that measure on Tuesday.
The subpoenas come as Scott Lloyd, who was head of the HHS refugee office last year when the family separation policy came under scrutiny, faced the House Judiciary Committee today.
Defending Trump's "zero tolerance" policy last year, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said families may be separated while border agents question individuals trying to enter the country. They can't allow U.S. laws to be broken.
"We cannot detain children with their parents," she explained. "So we must either release both the parents and the children - this is the historic get-out-of-jail-free practice of the previous administration - or the adult and the minor will be separated as a result of prosecuting the adult. Those are the only two options."