Deputy AG Dismisses ‘False Story’ on Immigrant Family Separations

Rod Rosenstein testified the federal gov't knows where every child is; doubts report on dropped drug case

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Thursday disputed a Democratic congresswoman’s characterization of President Donald Trump’s now-rescinded policy of separating illegal immigrants from their children, labeling one allegation a “false story.”

Trump last week signed an executive order ending the policy, but congressional Democrats have behaved as if it were still being implemented by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) focused on efforts to reunite some 2,700 children who came with their parents across the border illegally. Under the policy in place from April until last week, authorities filed charges against the parents and transferred the children to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

A federal judge this week ordered the administration to reunite the children with their parents within 30 days.

“I don’t believe the administration knows even where these children are, who they belong to,” Jayapal said.

Rosenstein (pictured above right) shot back that he has spoken to HHS Secretary Alex Azar about the matter.

“He was quite emphatic that is a false story,” he said. “HHS does know exactly where every one of those children are.”

Jayapal (pictured above left) countered with a story about her visit to a women’s prison, where some of the immigration defendants are jailed. She said one woman handed her a slip of paper given to her either by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer or an HHS employee. That paper had the woman’s name and identification number, along with the names of her children.

Only the children listed were not the woman’s, Jayapal said.

“Please do not believe when somebody tells you where these children are, unless you can tell me in 10 days that they are actually going to be reunited with their parents,” she said.

The official topic of Thursday’s hearing was the conduct of FBI officials during the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information. But Jayapal was more interested in discussing immigration.

She referenced a USA Today article that quoted an email from a DOJ supervisor in San Diego warning U.S. Border Patrol officials that prosecuting the immigration cases “will occupy substantially more of our resources, adding that the U.S. Attorney’s Office was “diverting staff, both support and attorneys, accordingly.”

“I would be shocked if it were true that a drug smuggling case was dropped because of an immigration case, but I’d be happy to look into it.”

The newspaper cited statistics suggesting that federal prosecutors were pushing off some drug smuggling cases to state authorities, as a result. Rosenstein said he doubted that was the case.

Related: Polls Show Americans Oppose Releasing Illegal Immigrant Families

“Congressman, I would be very interested in that,” he said. “I would be shocked if it were true that a drug smuggling case was dropped because of an immigration case, but I’d be happy to look into it.”

Jayapal referred to a letter signed by 72 former U.S. attorneys decrying the “tragic and unsustainable family separations” at the border. She described her interactions with some of the parents.

“They’re being held in a federal prison,” she said. “I’m not exaggerating when I say they’re being imprisoned — asylum seekers who are being imprisoned. Mothers told me their children have been stripped from them, one as young as one year old.”

PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage and article images: YouTube)