WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman of House Committee on Oversight and Reform Elijah E. Cummings; Chairman of House Committee on Homeland Security Bennie G. Thompson; and Chairman of House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Jamie Raskin sent a letter on August 9, 2019 to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The letter to Attorney General (AG) William P. Barr and Acting Secretary Kevin K. McAleenan was in relation to the 680 people arrested on August 7, 2019 in Mississippi. These arrests of illegal immigrants were made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The chairmen’s letter stated that “We are concerned by reports that these enforcement actions on August 7, 2019, left many children – on their first day of school – separated from their parents and terrified because they did not know where their parents were taken and detained. Volunteers reportedly took in sobbing children at churches and schools to provide them food and comfort.”
The letter goes on to state “On August 8, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced (here) that nearly 300 of the 680 people detained were released from custody, including some parents of separated children. That announcement also states that some children were only reunited with one parent, in cases where both parents had been detained.”
Cummings, Thomson and Raskin quoted from an August 9, 2019 report (here) stating that “Administration officials failed to inform child protective services or schools in advance of the enforcement actions. One ICE official reportedly stated: ‘We are not a humanitarian agency, but we are trying our best to ameliorate humanitarian concerns.’ However, according to this news report, ‘ICE officials said ICE could not make sure all parents of children had been released or that all children had safe place to go after school.'”
The chairmen state that it seems that the DOJ and ICE actions are targeting only immigrant workers and not the employers of these workers. As a result, they have requested series of five documents by August 23, 2019. Some of these are:
“#1 Documents sufficient to show the cost of the August 7, 2019, ICE and DOJ coordinated enforcement actions, including the number of ICE and DOJ employees involved, the General Schedule pay scale information for those employees, and the cost of all other government resources used in the enforcement action and the preceding investigation;
#4 Document sufficient to show the nature of all criminal charges stemming from these enforcement actions, including whether any owners, employers, or individuals otherwise responsible for hiring at targeted work sites were charged and the nature of those charges; and
#5 Documents sufficient to show all criminal charges, criminal or civil fines, or other government civil action against all companies that employed individuals detained or charged in the August 7, 2019, enforcement actions, from January 1, 2017, to present, including the legal basis for each action.”
The committee also requested a briefing to staff by August 23, 2019 as well.
To read the full letter to AG Barr and Acting Secretary McAleenan, as well as requirements to submit documents click here.