Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., gives opening remarks before the House Oversight Committee hearing on family separation and detention centers, Friday, July 12, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Latest: Democrat says separation policy can damage kids

July 12, 2019 - 7:42 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on four Democratic freshmen at a House committee hearing (all times local):

10:40 a.m.

A Democratic House committee chairman says the Trump administration's now-abandoned policy of separating migrant children from their families as they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border was a tactic to discourage future immigrants but could damage the children for their entire lives.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings made the remarks Friday as his House Oversight and Reform Committee opened a hearing on the treatment of apprehended children and conditions in border detention centers.

Four Democratic freshmen including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reported seeing horrid conditions at detention centers during a recent visit and are testifying, as are four border state Republicans.

The panel's top Republican is Ohio's Jim Jordan, who says President Donald Trump's hard-line immigration policies are about protecting the border, not about politics. Democrats accuse Trump of seeking to satisfy his conservative base with harsh policies.

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9 a.m.

A study by House Democrats provides new detail on nearly 2,700 migrant children taken from their families last year when they were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee report says federal figures show at least 18 children under age 2 were taken from their parents and held up to a half-year. It says at least 241 children were held in Border Patrol stations beyond the 72-hour legal limit. They're then supposed to be transferred to government-run shelters.

The report says some families were broken up even though the parents ended up not being prosecuted. It says at least 30 children remain separated.

The Democrats call separating children "a deliberate, unnecessary and cruel choice" by President Donald Trump.

The committee was holding a hearing on the issue Friday.

The Republican president says his immigration policies are meant to keep the country safe.

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12:50 a.m.

Four freshman Democrats who reported squalid conditions at migrant detention stations at the southern border are taking the spotlight at a House committee hearing.

Friday's House Oversight and Reform Committee session comes as partisan and internal Democratic tensions near a boil over President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Surging numbers of families, children and other migrants entering the U.S. from Mexico have overwhelmed the government's capacity to house them adequately.

Democrats and Republicans are fighting over the treatment of the arrivals, whose numbers have surpassed 100,000 monthly. Progressive Democrats are accusing moderates and party leaders of too readily compromising with Republicans on the issue.

The four Democrats who testify will include progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. All were among House members who visited border stations last week.

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