Durbin Calls For Judiciary Committee Hearing On Bombshell Report On President Trump's Child Separation Policy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, today called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold hearings after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a stunning new report on the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program and the Trump Administration’s cruel and inhumane zero-tolerance policy.  The Senate Judiciary Committee’s last DHS oversight hearing was on January 6, 2018, more than two years ago, under then-Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

The report found that interagency communication failures and poor internal management decisions left HHS unprepared for the Trump Administration’s child separation policy.  This lack of preparation impeded HHS’s ability to identify, care for, and reunify separated children.  Additionally, the report found that care provider facilities faced significant operational challenges at every stage of family reunification, causing additional stress to children.  The report found that ultimately, the Trump Administration’s child separation policy caused harm to young children and that, while HHS has taken steps to improve tracking and placement of separated children, significant vulnerabilities remain.

The report is the latest in a series of reviews in response to a request by Durbin, along with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and several of their colleagues, to the HHS OIG in 2018.  The Senators requested that the HHS OIG conduct a comprehensive review of the operations of the UAC program, including the treatment of children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border by the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

“Under the Trump Administration’s cruel child separation policy, thousands of children have been forcibly separated from their parents, causing serious trauma.  And today we learn, as part of the HHS OIG investigation that we requested, that Trump Administration political appointees ignored career officials who tried to sound the alarm even before the zero-tolerance policy was enacted.  This bombshell report reveals that even today HHS continues to track separated children by an error-prone manual system and does not receive sufficient information from DHS about their parents.  Sadly, my Republican colleagues have failed to conduct the most basic oversight to prevent these abuses and hold this Administration accountable,” Durbin said.