NATIONAL NEWS

New Details On Separated Children As House Liberals Testify

Jul 12, 2019, 8:11 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 5:04 pm
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(D-NY)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats revealed distressing new details Friday about migrant children separated from families as four of the party’s star freshmen prepared to tell a House committee about the squalid conditions they saw at migrant detention stations at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Friday’s House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing was coming with partisan and internal Democratic tensions running high over President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies. That friction was likely to increase further after the panel’s Democrats released a report on 2,648 of the children the Trump administration separated from their families last year before abandoning that policy under widespread pressure.

The report, based on data the panel demanded from federal agencies, found that 18 children under age 2 — half who were just months old — were kept from their parents up to half a year. Hundreds were held longer than previously revealed, including 25 kept over a year, and at least 30 remain apart from their parents.

The figures reflected “a deliberate, unnecessary and cruel choice by President Trump and his administration,” the report said.

The four Democrats testifying Friday, including progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., were among a larger group of House members who visited three Texas border stations last week . That included one in El Paso, where lawmakers said they saw women packed into stuffed cells without running water.

“It was just palpable walking into that cell, you just felt suffering and trauma and fear,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., said Thursday, ahead of her testimony.

Friday’s hearing comes as surging numbers of families, children and other migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico have overwhelmed the government’s capacity to house them adequately. The two political parties are locked in a bitter struggle over the treatment of the arrivals, whose numbers have recently surpassed 100,000 monthly, and progressive Democrats accuse moderates and party leaders of too readily compromising with Trump and Republicans on the issue.

Democrats accuse Trump of tolerating badly overcrowded and putrid holding facilities in a purposeful effort to discourage future immigrants. Trump has said many migrants who’ve fled Central American are “living far better” in detention centers than they were at home and has said the stations are “run beautifully,” though visiting lawmakers, attorneys, journalists and the government’s own inspectors have reported foul conditions.

“The situation is worse than they claim it is,” Oversight panel Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said Thursday.

Cummings said his message to Trump administration officials was, “Are you going to sit there and say we should be blind to what we see?”

Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley are among four progressive freshmen who call themselves “the squad,” along with Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Tlaib was also testifying Friday along with Rep. Veronica Escobar, whose West Texas district includes El Paso and hugs the boundary with Mexico.

Tlaib, Pressley and Ocasio-Cortez are members of the Oversight panel. Letting them testify, rather than simply ask questions of other witnesses, will give them far more time and attention.

The four squad members, all women of color, have tried pressuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to demand tighter restrictions on the Trump administration’s treatment of migrants. The dispute has spiraled into a fight with racial overtones , dismaying Democrats as the 2020 presidential and congressional elections approach.

Also raising political temperatures are Trump-ordered nationwide raidstargeting people in the U.S. illegally expected to start this weekend, according to administration officials and immigrant activists.

In June more than 104,000 people were apprehended or turned away at the border by Customs and Border Protection agents. Though that was down 40,000 from May, it was the fourth consecutive month those numbers exceeded 100,000, a level that hadn’t been reached in years.

A report last week by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found “serious overcrowding and prolonged detention” of children, families and single adults at border facilities in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the sector with the highest number of apprehended migrants in the country.

The report found that hundreds of children were being held longer than the supposed 72-hour limit and faced clothing shortages and a lack of hot meals, while some adults were detained for a week in a cell so crowded they had to stand.

Congress last month approved a $4.6 billion measure with money to improve border stations and migrants’ treatment. That passed only after liberal and Hispanic Democrats voted “no,” complaining that Pelosi hadn’t fought hard enough to add requirements for how detained migrants must be treated.

Since then, Democrats have launched a legislative offensive on the issue.

Pelosi said the House will soon work on one bill by Escobar tightening oversight of the Homeland Security Department and barring most family separations. Another by Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., would establish care standards for migrants being held.

Senate Democrats introduced their own legislation Thursday curbing family separations and setting health and treatment standards.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

The near-collision happened at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, seen here from the air. (Kir...
Greg Wallace and Pete Muntean

Southwest, FedEx jets came within 100 feet of collision at Texas airport, investigators say

A Southwest passenger jet and a FedEx cargo plane came as close as 100 feet from colliding Saturday at the main airport in Texas' capital, and it was a pilot — not air traffic controllers — who averted disaster, a top federal investigator says.
22 hours ago
In this handout photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nathan Lee Chasing ...
Rio Yamat, Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in Nevada sex abuse case

Former “Dances With Wolves” actor Nathan Chasing Horse has been formally charged in Nevada with eight felonies and two misdemeanors.
22 hours ago
police tape outside of a Virginia elementary school...
Denise Lavoie and Ben Finley, Associated Press

Boy who shot teacher allegedly tried to choke another

An attorney for a teacher who was shot and wounded by a 6-year-old Virginia boy says in a legal notice that the first-grader constantly cursed at staff and teachers, chased students around and tried to whip them with his belt and once choked another teacher “until she couldn’t breathe.”
22 hours ago
IN SPACE - FEBRUARY 8: In this handout photo provided by SpaceX, a Tesla roadster launched from the...
Jackie Wattles

SpaceX put a Tesla sportscar into space five years ago. Where is it now?

It's been half a decade since Elon Musk launched his own Tesla car into space with a SpaceX rocket, but where is it now?
22 hours ago
AMC raises seat prices...
Associated Press

AMC to charge more for good seats in movie theaters

Middle seats at many U.S. movie theaters just got more expensive.
22 hours ago
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 10: In this photo illustration, the FTX website is seen on a computer o...
Allison Morrow

FTX to politicians: Give us back our donations or we’ll sue you

New FTX management is pressuring hundreds of politicians and political organizations to return millions of dollars donated by them or its founders before it went bankrupt.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
New Details On Separated Children As House Liberals Testify