The House Homeland Security Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to subpoena U.S. Customs and Border Protection for details of its policy that separated children and families as the Trump administration ramped up enforcement at the border.
Similar documents have been requested by other committees, but Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) noted that his committee has jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security and CBP, and the agency has never explained how and why thousands of children — some of whom died — where removed from their parents at the border.
"As of today, the committee does not know how many children were separated from their parents and what we do know about separated children came from news articles," Thompson said.
The lawmakers narrowed their demands for information some from earlier requests that have not been answered in a move to get Republicans on board.
“There’s important oversight to be done and today is an example of Congress putting party aside and doing our jobs,” said Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the committee, hailed the vote as "how we should do business," but said he believed that the documents sought would show that the Trump did a good job addressing the flood of migrants coming to the U.S. border.
Despite the unanimous bipartisan support for the subpoena, Democrats saw the border crisis very differently, blaming President Trump for causing the problems with his draconian policies.
"This administration has created a full-blown humanitarian crisis at our border. Families have been separated, children have died from preventable illness, and thousands of asylum seekers have been forced to remain in Mexico," said Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.). "We will not allow this administration to shirk accountability for their actions, nor will we allow them to undermine our oversight responsibility. CBP will comply with this subpoena or they will be held in contempt of Congress."
The committee asked for information on the separations and deaths of a half dozen children in January, July, and October.
The subpoena will seek documents "related to the care and treatment of children," information on how the policy got created, and records on any kids who were ripped from their families.
Thompson said later that he did not know whether the administration would comply, but hoped it would take note that support for the action comes from both sides of the aisle.
"We'll see," he said.