House Republicans are looking for answers from their Democratic colleagues about recent visits to border detention facilities.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee want the details about the facility tours amid reports concerning a series of trips to Mexico and at least one Democrat allegedly “coaching” migrants there, Fox News reported.
Ranking GOP member Jim Jordan questioned Chairman Elijah Cummings in a letter about two trips into Mexico by committee staff.
“Although you have the authority to direct Committee staff to travel internationally on official committee business, you have not explained why you authorized this travel into Mexico or what you sought to learn through these trips,” the Ohio Republican wrote about the visits, one of which necessitated an escort back to the U.S. by Border Patrol agents.
Jordan added that Republicans were not informed about any of the trips and said Democrats were trying “to delegitimize the administration’s border security efforts and vilify the men and women who protect our border.”
Republicans are worried the trips “could continue to result in misleading information about the administration’s border security efforts.”
In the letter to Cummings, Jordan specifically noted a report involving Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who was part of a trip taken to Tijuana. The Texas Democrat and vocal advocate of liberal immigration policies was accused of coaching asylum-seekers by secretly sending her staff into the border town of Ciudad Juárez to help migrants return to the U.S.
Dem congresswoman’s staff sent to Mexico to coach asylum-seekers to game system, on your dime, say officials https://t.co/5FnWhiU2su
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 6, 2019
The migrants who, under the “remain in Mexico” policy, were returned from El Paso, Texas, were reportedly being guided in claiming they cannot speak Spanish in order to be allowed to return to the U.S., the National Border Patrol Council’s El Paso chapter and some Customs and Border Protection officials told the Washington Examiner.
Escobar slammed the report as a “hit piece” at the time which was “fueled by xenophobia and misinformation.”
The @dcexaminer has published a fabricated story resulting in death threats against me and my staff.
This hit piece is fueled by xenophobia and misinformation. But guess what, guys? These attacks won’t deter me doing my job, upholding my oath, and pushing for accountability.
— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) July 8, 2019
But Jordan and House Republicans want to know what the purpose of the trip was as well as what kind of “coaching” was provided and to whom.
The Department of Homeland Security barred Democratic staffers who were sent by Cummings from visiting Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection centers just a few weeks ago. Their “rude” and “disruptive” behavior got their access denied as they reportedly didn’t follow directions and “interfered” with operations.
Cummings fired back in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
“I am writing to express my deep concern,” the Maryland Democrat wrote last month, “that the Department of Homeland Security decided to block Committee staff from conducting visits to 11 detention facilities just days after previous staff inspections revealed potentially serious ongoing problems with the treatment of children and adults in DHS custody — including blocking visits to sites where the Inspector General warned about an ‘immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained.”
During a House hearing on border facilities and issues related to migrant family separations in July, Jordan leveled a scathing rebuke of Democrats for “making ridiculous and dangerous statements.”
The GOP congressman dressed down his colleagues in a fiery speech following an outburst by Cummings while questioning McAleenan over reports of deplorable conditions at border detention facilities.
“What do Democrats do when they have to acknowledge a problem that doesn’t align with their politics? They look for someone to blame. Who else but the president of the United States and the hard-working men and women who work tirelessly every day trying to secure our border,” Jordan said.
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