Trump official offers pathetic excuse for failing to reunite families


Trump's Department of Health and Human Services says it can't reunite families in a timely manner because of all the pesky lawmakers trying to exercise oversight.

The Trump administration has no plan for reuniting the children it ripped away from their parents — and now the administration is blaming its failure on the members of Congress who fought for those kids.

"To date, nearly 500 work hours have been spent facilitating congressional visits to facilities for more than 70 Members of Congress," Matt Bassett, assistant secretary for legislation at the Department of Health and Human Services, complained in a letter to the House and Senate judiciary committees.

He claimed that many of those hours "would otherwise have been spent ... verifying parental relationships to prevent child trafficking, facilitating check-in calls between parents and children, facilitating and reviewing foster family home studies, coordinating the delivery of food and medical supplies, and many other duties vital to the health and welfare of the children."

But it was the Trump administration's failure to allow lawmakers like Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to inspect the child detention facilities, or to account for the whereabouts and condition of these kids, that prompted the oversight visits Bassett complains about.

Merkley spokesman Ray Zaccaro blasted the HHS letter.

"Congressional oversight is not a waste of time," Zaccaro told CNN. "Before Senator Merkley demanded to see these facilities, they were shrouded in secrecy and Americans had no idea the extent to which the Administration's zero tolerance policy led to the incarceration of children and separation from their families."

The Trump administration's excuse is all the more insulting considering that First Lady Melania Trump has made two trips for photo ops at immigration facilities in the past two weeks, wasting time without performing any necessary oversight function.

As of Thursday, up to 3,000 kids, as many as 100 of whom are under the age of 5, remain separated from their families, according to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Last week, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite all the families within 30 days.

The Trump administration's excuse is absurd and insulting on its face — but as CNN reported on Monday, this chaotic lack of a plan was the plan all along.

Despite his many attempts to weasel out of it, Trump has only himself to blame for the suffering he has caused.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.