June 22, 2018

Rep. Correa Leads 123 Members In Calling For Investigation to Reunite Children and Parents

Washington, DC — Today, Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA), led 123 of his colleagues in writing to the Inspectors General of the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services requesting immediate investigations into whether the Departments have records capable of reuniting children with their parents to ensure the Departments can put families back together.

Rep. Correa said, “We need to know exactly how much information DHS and HHS have if we are to have any hope of reuniting 2,300+ children with their parents. As a father, I cannot imagine the terror and pain these families must be experiencing. This administration took these children. They must be held accountable for reuniting them with their families.”

The letter can be found here.

Signatories:

Jerrold Nadler, John Lewis, Elijah Cummings, Nydia Velazquez, Maxine Waters, Pramila Jayapal, Joe Kennedy III, Joseph Crowley, Linda T. Sanchez, Cheri Bustos, Julia Brownley, Earl Blumenauer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Scott Peters, Tim Ryan, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Bill Foster, Jimmy Gomez, Raul Ruiz, Nanette Diaz Barragan, Zoe Lofgren, Jared Huffman, Ed Perlmutter, Michael E. Capuano, Katherine M. Clark, Darren Soto, Tulsi Gabbard, Anthony Brown, Tony Cardenas, Raul M. Grijalva, Marc Veasey, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Jim Cooper, Juan Vargas, Adriano Espaillat, Norma J. Torres, Niki Tsongas, Jared Polis, Grace Napolitano, Grace Meng, Sander Levin, Pete Aguilar, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Jimmy Panetta, Chellie Pingree, Brendan Boyle, Elizabeth Esty, José E. Serrano, Robert A. Brady, Kathy Castor, Yvette D. Clarke, Nita Lowey, Jim Costa, David Price, Peter A. DeFazio, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Danny K. Davis, Marcy Kaptur, Sheila Jackson Lee, Terri Sewell, Gregory W. Meeks, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, David Cicilline, Gwen Moore, Betty McCollum, Adam Smith, Barbara Lee, Stephan F. Lynch, Nydia Velazquez, Carolyn B. Maloney, Doris Matsui, Timothy J. Walz, Conor Lamb, Albio Sires, Daniel W. Lipinski, Joe Courtney, William R. Keating, Alcee L. Hastings, Jan Schakowsky, William Pascrell, Steven Cohen, Sanford Bishop, Luis V. Gutierrez, Judy Chu, John Garamendi, Frederica S. Wilson, Mike Quigley, Dina Titus, Jackie Speier, Bennie G. Thompson, Gene Green, G.K. Butterfield, Gregorio Sablan, Diana DeGette, James Langevin, Rosa DeLauro, Vicente Gonzalez, Mark DeSaulnier, Debbie Dingel, Alan Lowenthal, Eric Swalwell, Donald M. Payne Jr., Salud Carbajal, Michelle Lujan Grisham, David Scott, Thomas R. Suozzi, Dan Kildee, Val Butler Demings, Anna G. Eshoo, Ruben Kihuen, A. Donald McEachin, Jacky Rosen, Colleen Hanabusa, Denny Heck, Charlie Crist, Jamie Raskin, Filemon Vela, James P. McGovern, Suzanne Bonamici, Ro Khanna, Tom O’Halleran, John Yarmuth

Text:

June 21, 2018

Dear Inspectors General Kelly and Levinson:

We are deeply concerned about the Department of Justice’s so-called “zero-tolerance” policy that has led to the systematic separation of immigrant children from their parents. Moreover, we are gravely disturbed about reports on children being separated from their parents and the possibility that they will never be reunited again. We are alarmed about the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) quality of the recordkeeping for these families.

A New York Times article reported that Elsa Johana Ortiz Enriquez was deported without her son. “An immigration officer handed her a handwritten note on a pink slip of paper with the words, ‘Call Shelter Son’ and a telephone number. …but she was deported before she could use it.” This is an example of what appears to be a lack of quality recordkeeping to reunite parents with their children.

Therefore, we urge you to conduct an immediate investigation on DHS’ and HHS’ recordkeeping of children and parents who are being separated. Specifically, we would like the following questions to be answered in the report:

  1. Does DHS and HHS keep separate records or is it one system to track the parents and their children? How are DHS and HHS keeping records of parents and children? What system(s) are the Departments using?
  2. How quickly (average time) can DHS and/or HHS locate a child’s parent? Is there an electronic database? Is it a paper file?
  3. What is the process for DHS and HHS to reunite parents with their children? Which is the lead Department to reunite the families?
  4. If parents are deported without their children, what is the process of reuniting the parents with their children?
  5. Can every separated child be accounted for in DHS’ and/or HHS’ recordkeeping that links them to their parent, so that they can be reunited?

Given the time-sensitive nature of this ongoing matter, we urge you to begin a timely and complete review of the Departments’ record-keeping of immigrant families. Please provide us with a response confirming that your respective offices will be reviewing DHS and HHS recordkeeping by the close of business on Friday, June 29th.

Sincerely,

###

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