Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) had a bit of an embarrassing moment during a hearing on Wednesday where she demanded that an internal task force be created to deal with the problem of recent migrant children deaths. She was quickly informed that there already is a task force dealing with the issue, leaving Lee looking a little more uninformed than she expected.
Lee’s comments came during a Homeland Security hearing. The House Homeland Security Committee was questioning Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan over recent migrant children deaths and the improvements made in the last several months to medical conditions provided to migrants captured at the border.
Speaking about the five migrant children deaths since December, Lee said, “I believe there should be an internal task force set up dealing with children, dealing with children’s death.”
The congresswoman then asked McAleenan, “My question to you is: Will you set up an internal in-house task force to deal with … these deaths, to find what solutions should be put in place?”
McAleenan then had to inform Lee that the task force she was demanding already exists.
“We already have internal task forces working these issues,” McAleenan said.
Trying to save face, Lee continued expressing anger and she demanded the names of people involved in the task force because people are “outraged” over the recent string of deaths.
Unfortunately, McAleenan’s testimony before The House Homeland Security Committee ended up being little more than an excuse for Democrats to showboat for cameras. On top of Lee being more informed by her own anger than actual facts, Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Il) said the migrant children deaths are “intentional.”
“The evidence is really clear that this is intentional,” Underwood said. “It’s intentional. It’s a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration, and it’s cruel and inhumane.”
Underwood’s words inspired such heated back and forth between her and other members of the committee that her comments were eventually taken off the official record after a nine to five vote.
Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA) later said McAleenan should not be proud of his record because of the five migrant children deaths and saying he is is “despicable.”
McAleenan tried to push back against the extreme rhetoric with facts and requests for Congress to step up and do more.
On top of requesting funds to assist in humanitarian efforts, McAleenan said Congress needs to change some laws to make the process of detaining and releasing illegal immigrants easier. He called for a new law allowing migrant families to stay together while being processed, as well as a refugee detention center in Central America.
McAleenan said his department is doing the best they can with the limited resources they have to tackle one of the biggest issues the United States is currently facing.
“Our immigration system is full and we are well beyond our capacity at every stage of the process,” he said.
McAleenan did earn praise from some lawmakers on the committee for making recent changes like bringing extra medical personnel to the border to help in increased medical screenings for migrants.
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