Cummings Issues Statement on New Report Showing Critical Failures of Administration’s Child Separation Policy

Oct 24, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 24, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement in response to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) documenting how the Trump Administration failed to plan for the repercussions of its “zero tolerance” policy to separate thousands of immigrant children from their families, which was announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on April 6, 2018:

“President Trump’s child separation policy is a disgraceful chapter in America’s history.  This latest report confirms that senior Trump Administration officials kept many officials charged with implementing this policy in the dark, magnifying the harmful effects of this policy even further.  This and other independent investigations show that the Trump Administration failed to take basic steps to ensure proper care for vulnerable children.”

Below are highlights from the new report:

  • DHS and HHS “did not take specific steps in advance of the April 2018 [zero-tolerance] memo to plan for the separation of parents and children or potential increase in the number of children who would be referred to ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement].”


  • HHS officials with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) noticed an alarming increase in separated children in their care as early as March 2017.  In response to ORR questions to DHS in November 2017, DHS officials “stated that DHS did not have an official policy to separate families.”


  • ORR officials said they considered planning for increased child separations in early 2018, “but HHS leadership advised ORR not to engage in such planning since DHS officials told them that DHS did not have an official policy of separating parents and children.”


  • Border Patrol officials separated hundreds of families near the El Paso border from July to November 2017, confirming reports of a “pilot program” prior to the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy and child separations earlier this year.

The new report matches findings in a recent Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report showing that the Trump Administration had no plans to track separated children and that Administration officials falsely told the American people they had systems in place to do so.

The Inspectors General for both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice have confirmed ongoing reviews of this policy.  These reviews were requested in a letter from Cummings and other top Democrats on June 29, 2018.

Click here to read the full report.

115th Congress