Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, D-Ill., was outraged that members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) were barred from a meeting with Thomas Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
On Thursday, at the request of Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the speakers’ staffers asked Gutiérrez and other CHC members to leave the meeting about the execution of President Trump’s controversial immigration policy. The Democrats were seeking clarification on the scope of reported raids and arrests of undocumented immigrants.
In a statement released later that day, which was at times incendiary and sarcastic, Gutiérrez said not only are Trump’s “mass deportation” executive orders unprecedented, but so are the lengths to which Ryan and Goodlatte will go to control information provided to congressional representatives.
“I expect such dictatorial shenanigans from the Trump Administration, but not from competent, compassionate legislators like Speaker Ryan or from legislators like Bob Goodlatte. Do they have ear pieces feeding them orders from President Bannon or the others making decisions in the White House?” Gutiérrez said.
On Feb. 11, Gutiérrez and other Democratic members of Congress requested a meeting with Homan to discuss recent immigration raids throughout the country. They said that the raids struck fear in immigrant communities and that their constituents requested clarity on ICE’s interpretation of Trump’s executive order and its enforcement methods.
A meeting scheduled for Tuesday was subsequently canceled and rescheduled for Thursday. Gutiérrez lamented that Republicans took control of the meeting and made it invitation-only. Members of the CHC were told that any future requests to speak with ICE officials would need to go through the Republican Judiciary Committee.
AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, told news outlets that the chair of the CHC, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., had been invited to the meeting.
“The Speaker’s office organized a small bipartisan briefing that was, at the request of [the Department of Homeland Security], limited to members with jurisdictional interests in immigration enforcement,” Strong said.
“Members of the CHC expressed interest in attending, and to accommodate the request, we welcomed the chair of the CHC to join on behalf of the other members. We are confident that the CHC chair is capable of representing the views of her caucus, and this arrangement was made very clear to the CHC ahead of time.”
The other members of Congress excluded from the meeting included Reps. Nanette Barragán, D-Calif.; Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif.; Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.; Lou Correa, D-Calif.; Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev.; Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., Norma Torres, D-Calif.; and Juan Vargas, D-Calif.
Gutiérrez was far from alone in condemning their dismissal. Several other representatives also released scathing statements on Thursday.
“It is very unusual for a federal agency to refuse to share information when that is the purpose of their visit to Capitol Hill,” Cleaver said. “In my 12 years in Congress, I have never seen this happen. Even a 25 year Member and leader on the issue of immigration, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, was not allowed to stay. The information obtained from this meeting could have been vitally important to the people of my district.”
Torres said that members of her community both documented and undocumented worry about their safety and the safety of their loved ones.
“Families have been upended and many don’t know whom to trust,” she continued. “I have now written two letters to ICE asking for more information, including: who has been swept up in these raids? were non-criminals detained? did they receive access to counsel and due process? and were any children left without parents? I am still awaiting ICE’s response.”
Vargas said they will keep trying to get a meeting with the Trump Administration and ICE officials because their constituents deserve answers.
“Children in communities around the country are living in fear because they don’t know if their mom or dad will be taken from them,” Vargas said. “Hardworking parents are fearful that they’re going to be ripped away from their children. Innocent families are being targeted and separated. Our country is better than this.”
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Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ February 18, 2017 at 11:09AM