The separation of undocumented families under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy is the result of a "deliberate" process that ultimately amounted to "official kidnapping and child abuse," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Connecticut Democrat was part of Tuesday's hearing on the administration's "zero tolerance" policy, which resulted in children being separated from their parents at the southern border.
With more than 500 children still separated despite a court-ordered deadline to reunite them by last Thursday, the focus of Tuesday's hearing was family separation. Blumenthal said he was outraged by what he heard.
"From the day that I went to the border, which was six weeks ago, there has been no plan, no system to reunite these children," Blumenthal told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."
"It amounts to official kidnapping and child abuse."
Recounting the testimonies, Blumenthal called officials' attempts to explain the continued separation of children "outrageous and incredible."
For Blumenthal, the "most moving and powerful part" of the hearings was when Commander Jonathan White of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, testified that other officials had long been aware of his concerns regarding the separation of families.
"Jonathan White testified that the highest levels knew about the concerns that he and other career officials raised about this policy," Blumenthal said. "So the explanations (for these separations) have been totally unsatisfactory."
What White's testimony showed Blumenthal was that family separation "was the result of a deliberate process that actually took account of the pain and trauma that would be inflicted on these children," he said.
CORRECTION: Jonathan White's title has been corrected in this story.