Congresswoman Diana DeGette

Representing the First District of Colorado
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DeGette Visits HHS Family Separation Operation Center in the Nation’s Capital

Jul 24, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Chief Deputy Whip, today toured the Department of Health and Human Services’ family reunification operation center and received an update from Trump Administration officials on efforts to comply with federal court orders to reunite separated children with their families.

The HHS tour was part of a bipartisan briefing for members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which conducts oversight of the agency offices responsible for the well-being of the children forcibly separated from their families at the border by the Trump Administration. The HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement has come under intense criticism for how it has handled this role.

During the briefing, members toured the Secretary’s Operations Center, HHS’s communications hub typically used for response coordination during public health emergencies and natural disasters. The SOC was activated for family reunification efforts following a federal court injunction requiring family reunification within 30 days.

The committee members also received an update from Trump Administration personnel from HHS and the Department of Homeland Security on the administration’s efforts to comply with court orders to reunify the families.

Last month, DeGette joined Democratic colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee, of which she is a senior member, in calling on congressional Republicans to hold a hearing on the wellbeing of children forcibly separated from their parents. Today, the Democrats’ request was echoed in a letter from a coalition of health advocates urging Congress to hold oversight hearings on the quality of care separated children are receiving while in the Trump Administration’s custody. To date, Republican leaders have refused to accept the Democrats’ request to hold a hearing.

Also in June, DeGette met with detainees at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Aurora, CO – some of whom had been separated from their children – and traveled with more than two dozen House members to the U.S.-Mexico border, where she observed a processing center for people arrested while crossing the border without the proper documents and visited an HHS-supervised “tender age” facility for very young children arriving undocumented in this country.