July 31, 2018 Press Release

07.31.18 – Earlier today, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on the efforts to return children to their families in the wake of the Trump administration’s inhumane and cruel “zero tolerance” policy.  Several officials involved in this man-made crisis testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Hearing.

Equity Forward Fact Check: Today’s Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

Statement: Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that family separation was an “unintended consequence” of the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy.

Fact Check: FALSE.  President Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly admitted family separation “could be a tough deterrent — would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers.” when asked about family separation as a deterrent for those seeking asylum in the United States.  [NPR, 5/11/18]

Statement: Senator Grassley spoke about parents who elected to be deported and leave their children in the United States, but also suggested that some parents weren’t fully informed when agreeing to be deported.

Fact Check: Mixed bag. There are many reports that parents unknowingly signed forms allowing themselves to be deported without understanding what they were signing. The ACLU provided documentation of this instances in court last week. [Washington Post, 7/26/18New York Times, 7/27/18]

Statement: Jonathan D. White, the Health and Human (HHS) official in charge of returning children, told Senators that the quality of care at HHS facilities is excellent.

Fact Check: SOMEWHAT FALSE. There are many reports of children being sexually abused by staff members at HHS-funded facilities, including at least one child victimized by the family separation crisis. There have also been reports of children being forcibly drugged while in facilities funded by HHS. [ProPublica, 7/27/18; The Nation, 7/27/18; Vice 7/31/18]

Statement: Grassley said “the administration has mishandled the family separation.”

Fact Check: We couldn’t agree more!

Statement: When Jonathan D. White was asked how many children under the age of five were in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody, he wasn’t able to supply an answer.

Fact Check: Huh? If HHS Secretary Alex Azar claimed he “within seconds could find any child in our care for any parent,” why didn’t White know how many children under five are in the agency’s care? [CNN, 6/26/18]

Statement: Top Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executive Matthew Albence said his agency’s family detention centers are like a “summer camp” because detainees have access to “24/7 food and water.” [New York Times, 7/31/18]

Fact Check: Seriously?