Hours before passing, Cummings signed subpoenas directed to two US immigration agencies
In one of his last official acts before his death, the late House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings signed two subpoenas for documents related to a temporary end to a policy change that allowed some immigrants with severe health issues to remain in the US.
Hours before his passing, staffers drove the subpoenas to Baltimore for Cummings’ signature, said a Democratic committee aide.
“Chairman Cummings felt so strongly about the children, that he was going to fight until the end,” said the aide.
Cummings’ office announced the death of the veteran Maryland Democratic lawmaker on Thursday morning.
A House Oversight subcommittee held a hearing on the policy change last month included emotional testimony from witnesses who, due to their medical conditions, were granted relief from deportation and were left in limbo following the administration’s move to revoke that policy.
“I don’t want to die,” Jonathan Sanchez, 16, told lawmakers. Sanchez, who came to the US seeking treatment for cystic fibrosis, warned that his home country of Honduras is not prepared to treat his disease.
The decision to no longer consider non-military requests for deferred action — temporary relief from deportation — sparked immediate backlash, as undocumented families and lawyers scrambled to obtain answers on the abrupt change in policy. The decision was reversed, but lawmakers have continued to press the administration over the move.
Last week, Cummings wrote in a memo to members that he planned to subpoena acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli and acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence to testify on October 17 and produce documents. Both agreed to voluntarily testify.
“The Committee has tried for more than a month to obtain this information voluntarily, but USCIS and ICE have obstructed the investigation,” wrote Cummings. The hearing has been postponed to October 24.
The subpoenas signed by Cummings on Wednesday request records related to the decision to end deferred action, including emails, memoranda, and guidance “discussing the rationale and transition process for the deferred action policy change.” They also request documents regarding the collaboration between ICE and USCIS before the change took effect.
The subpoenas were delivered to the agencies on Wednesday afternoon.