People For the American Way

Family Separation Betrays Our Values—Oppose Nomination of Kathy Kraninger for CFPB Director

People For in Action
Family Separation Betrays Our Values—Oppose Nomination of Kathy Kraninger for CFPB Director

In response to President Trump’s cruel and inhumane family separation policy, People For the American Way noted on June 19: “Trump’s zero-tolerance policy is ripping families apart, and he has the power to stop this nightmare.” Two months later, the nightmare continues. Not a single person in the federal government has been held accountable. Now Trump wants to promote—not punish—a central player. He has nominated Kathy Kraninger to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In Kraninger’s current position with the Office of Management and Budget, she oversees program planning and implementation for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice—the two federal agencies most directly responsible for separating families at the border. PFAW agrees with allied organizations that Kraninger, whose committee vote is scheduled for August 23, should not be confirmed. You can download our letter here.

Dear Chairman Crapo, Ranking Member Brown, and Committee Members:

We, the undersigned national, state, and local organizations, write to express our opposition to the nomination of Kathy Kraninger for the position of Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and to urge you to vote against her confirmation when the Committee considers this matter on Thursday, August 23. In addition to having “no apparent relevant experience in finance, banking regulation or consumer protection”1 and agreeing with every one of Mick Mulvaney’s harmful consumer policies,2 Ms. Kraninger in recent months has played a central role in administering the inhumane and un-American policy of separating thousands of children from their parents—for some, perhaps permanently—along our southwest border. Rather than being simply a disastrous policy of the past, the humanitarian crisis resulting from the separation of families continues to this day. The administration officials responsible for implementing the tragedy unfolding deserve to be punished, not promoted.

In her current role as a program associate director at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Ms. Kraninger oversees both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice, the two federal agencies most directly responsible for the administration’s decision to separate more than 2,600 children from their parents at the border.3 Still today, more than 500 children remain separated from their parents, hundreds of whom were deported from the country as a result of false promises that they would be reunited first with their child or after signing papers that they could not reasonably have been expected to understand.4 To date, not a single person in the federal government has been held accountable for this policy, including Ms. Kraninger who had a role in the implementation of this policy.

The family separation policy that Ms. Kraninger oversaw was exceptionally cruel and Republican and Democratic members of this Committee have been unsparing in their criticisms. Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) stated clearly that “Children should not be separated from their families and the issue needs to be resolved quickly,”5 yet more than two months have passed and the issue is far from resolved. Several Republican members of the Committee also joined a letter two months ago calling for an end to the policy that they regarded as not “consistent with our values and ordinary human decency.”6 Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) have—for two months—been requesting documents and information to better ascertain precisely what role Ms. Kraninger played in the design and implementation of the “appalling” family separation policy but have so far received no cooperation from the nominee or the administration.7

The unredeemable policy was also administered in an unconscionably haphazard and careless manner, compounding the problems that necessarily would have resulted from taking thousands of children from their parents. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) was correct that the administration made a “large mistake” by adopting and then failing to prepare for the consequences of its family separation policy and instead approaching it in a “ready, fire, aim way.”8 After the federal government failed to meet a court deadline to reunite families, the judge overseeing the case observed that “There were three agencies, and each was like its own stovepipe. Each had its own boss, and they did not communicate . . . . What was lost in the process was the family.”9

One of the most important functions of OMB is to ensure that agencies have properly planned for and are prepared to implement significant policies and programs such as this. That is no less true when it comes to terrible and ill-conceived policies such as this one. OMB’s role typically involves facilitating interagency communication and helping to manage complicated processes that cut across multiple agencies. Either Ms. Kraninger failed terribly at her job, putting the wellbeing and lives of thousands of children in danger, or, even more concerning, she purposefully sought to run an ineffective, cruel process in order to punish children and/or their parents, in which case she lacks the moral sense or standing to hold a government position. In either case, her nomination should be rejected.

The failures of judgment, execution and conscience associated with the family separation policy are of the highest level. As U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw explained several weeks ago, “the reality is that for every parent who is not located, there will be a permanently orphaned child, and that is 100 percent the responsibility of the administration.”10 Although Kathy Kraninger disclaims personal responsibility for setting the “zero tolerance” prosecution policy that led to most, but not all, of the family separations at issue, she acknowledges that she has participated in meetings on immigration and border security policy since the beginning of the administration and that OMB “has an extensive role” in working with agencies as they carry out their policies.11 A vote to advance Ms. Kraninger’s nomination to head the CFPB is a vote to approve or excuse the conduct of one of the central figures in the family separation debacle thus minimizing the extent of this harmful and cruel policy. The Committee should reject her nomination.