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Elijah Cummings Signed Subpoenas Hours Before His Death

Rep. Elijah Cummings at the 2017 AFGE Legislative Conference.
Rep. Elijah Cummings at the 2017 AFGE Legislative Conference. (Photo: AFGE)

“As I was paying my respects to our forever Chairman, his staff told me that in his final hours he signed subpoenas to USCIS and ICE” – Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Rep. Elijah Cummings signed subpoenas investigating the Trump administration’s immigration policy hours before his death last Thursday, according to Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

Pressley said the subpoenas were for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Services, and would pursue justice for immigrants with chronic medical conditions. The subpoenas likely involve the White House policy ending protections for migrant children allowed temporary stay in the U.S. while receiving treatment for life-threatening diseases.

“As I was paying my respects to our forever Chairman, his staff told me that in his final hours he signed subpoenas to USCIS and ICE, pursuing justice for immigrants in my district & across the country with chronic medical conditions,” tweeted Rep. Ayanna Pressley. “A man of his word every moment of his life.”

Cummings’ No Tolerance For ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy

Cummings was among the fiercest critics of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance family separation policies.

“They are human beings,” Cummings told former acting Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan in July. “I get tired of folks saying, ‘Oh they’re just beating up on the Border Patrol.’ ‘Oh, they’re just beating up on Homeland Security.’ All I’m saying is, I want to concentrate on these children, and I want to make sure that they’re OK. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s not the deed you do to a child. It’s the memory. It’s the memory.”

Cummings’ stand against the trauma inflicted on children by the family separation policy was supported by a Human and Health Services Inspector General report in September, which found that “separated children exhibited more fear, feelings of abandonment, and post-traumatic stress than did children who were not separated.”

Later in September a federal judge blocked the White House’s attempts to repeal Flores Agreement migrant protections, which would have allowed the Trump administration to detain children indefinitely, block designated lawyers from entering detainment facilities, and remove state licensing authorization of facilities. Instead, it would have handed that authorization to ICE, severely curtailing independent oversight.

“Federal attorneys dared to go to court recently to argue that they weren’t obligated to provide them with soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bedding, and even food fit for human consumption,” wrote the Nation’s Sasha Abramsky.

Multiple watchdog reports have found inhumane conditions in the migrant camps, where private prison corporations and other contracted entities have made massive profits as a result of Trump’s immigration crackdown. Other reports have found that thousands more children may have been separated than previously thought, reflecting a poorly organized and deliberately cruel operation.

“We are the United States of America! We are the greatest country in the world,” Cummings yelled in July. “Come on. We’re better than that!”

Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a co-owner Citizen Truth.

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