The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is banning Democratic staff members on the House Oversight Committee from visiting Customs and Border Protection (CPD) centers along the U.S.-Mexico border due to their “rude” and “disruptive” behavior.
After allegedly being uncooperative and difficult during their last visitation to detention facilities last week, Democratic staffers have been barred from a return trip.
“Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) had sent his staff to visit border facilities for ‘oversight inspections’ last week and planned to send staff again to view Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and CBP centers,” Fox News reported. “But sources [revealed] that DHS has revoked access to CBP facilities for the upcoming visit, citing staff behavior that ‘interfered’ with law enforcement operations – including refusing to leave one site after their scheduled window, skipping some tours and being ‘rude’ to officers.”
Enjoy your last visits
Even though future visits have been effectively banned, a DHS official noted that the agency is still allowing visitations this week – including one it already permitted Tuesday. However, this week’s visits were limited to a maximum of two hours.
“Due to the operational burden placed on the field by their refusal to comply with instruction during last week’s STAFFDEL [staff delegation visit], CBP pulled the trip in which more site visits were to take place at CBP and ICE facilities this week,” a senior DHS official explained to Fox News Wednesday via email. “DHS communicated to the committee that due to their conduct, CBP could not support visits from the committee this week.”
Cummings' staff reportedly reflected the same behavior their boss demonstrated when blasting DHS earlier this summer.
“Cummings, 68, has held a series of meetings with border officials about conditions on the United States' southern border,” the Washington Examiner informed. “In July, a video of the Maryland Democrat going ballistic at the head of DHS during a hearing went viral after Cummings said the agency could ‘do better.’"
The Maryland Democrat implied it is America’s duty to provide for the needs of all who break into the country illegally – while saying nothing about the millions of U.S. citizens living in poverty without assistance, including those in his own district.
"I get tired of folks saying, 'Oh, oh, they just beating up on the Border Patrol … Oh, they just beating up on Homeland Security.' What I am saying is, I want to concentrate on these children, and I want to make sure that they are okay," Cummings expressed, according to the Examiner.
"We are the greatest country in the world. We are the ones that can go anywhere in the world and save people, make sure they have diapers, make sure they have toothbrushes, make sure they’re not laying around defecating in some silver paper."
After being banned from future visitations, Democrats are now claiming the banishment is the result of DHS wanting to conceal the living situations of illegal immigrants – which is contrary to the department's explanation.
“A Democratic source suggested the visit is being nixed due to concerns about what staff were learning from detainees about conditions on the ground,” Fox News’ Brooke Singman pointed out. “That's not how the agency described it.
"Last week – following a visit to one of the first facilities on the committee staff's itinerary – DHS Assistant Secretary of Legislative Affairs Christine Ciccone wrote to Cummings, notifying him that due to his staff’s violations of guidelines, their planned follow-up tour could not be accommodated."
Ciccone explained the reasoning for the ban in a letter.
“During discussions between Department and Committee staff, however, the Committee staff repeatedly stated that they do not intend to abide by DHS guidelines,” her letter obtained by Fox News reads.
“In light of this, we are unable to accommodate your staff’s visit … unless we receive a firm commitment that the Committee and its staff will comply fully with all existing guidelines and policies. [The staff’s attempts to] conduct interviews and take photographs [without limitations are] a significant deviation [from DHS policy and] could jeopardize [the department’s ability to meet legal obligations].”
Continued refusal to abide by rules is reportedly the impetus behind the ban.
“The night before last week's visits, DHS officials had a ‘late-night’ phone call with committee staff, urging them to ‘respect officers on the ground’ as to not ‘disrupt business’ at facilities,” Ciccone recounted. “But according to a CBP official, the committee's chief counsel – who led the delegation starting in Yuma, Ariz. – ‘refused to leave the facility after the hour-long tour,’ despite previously agreeing to a 45-minute tour at each location.”
The official included in his account that besides the slated Yuma, Arizona, facility tour, scheduled visits to other centers were cancelled because of the Democratic committee member's lack of cooperation.
"I informed him that his actions on behalf of the committee made a huge operational impact by not communicating back to CBP his true intent and expectations for this delegation," the official recalled.
"This left agents in a position where they were waiting on staff to show, and then they did not show at all. [Another part of the delegation started in the San Diego Sector, but two staffers missed the first portion of the tour and] apparently ended up crossing the border due to following their GPS guidance and were unable to make it."
Republicans gave one account of the happenings.
“Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), in a letter to Cummings, also said Democratic staff crossed into Mexico ‘without consultation from the Department of State,’ [stating] the Democratic staff was ‘rude’ and ‘dismissive’ of law enforcement officials during the visit,’” Ciccone noted.
But an aide from the Democratic committee insisted otherwise.
“[Jordan's letter was] riddled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations,’" the Democrat argued. “[Some of the meetings Jordan complained about] were freely attended by his own staff, who raised absolutely no concerns at the time. The real news here is that the Department of Homeland Security abruptly canceled future inspections and denied Committee investigators access to 11 CBP facilities as soon as Committee investigators began confirming with detainees some of the very same problems identified by the independent Inspector General. It appears that the Ranking Member [Jordan] would rather defend the Trump Administration than conduct meaningful independent oversight."
Yet a large handful of on-site misconduct incidents demonstrated by Democrats was brought to attention by Jordan and DHS officials.
“DHS asked the committee to abide by the instructions of DHS personnel on the ground and to respect the significant operational interests of the border facilities visited,” Jordan’s letter explains. “Unfortunately, at your apparent direction, Democrats refused to listen to law-enforcement instructions and made demands at the facilities ‘against the express written notice DHS had provided earlier.’”
Committee members’ refusal to abide by simple conditions were emphasized.
“Jordan said Democratic staff ‘abandoned’ the agreement with DHS for limited photography and detainee interactions and accused them of ‘wasting DHS manpower and taxpayer resources,’” Ciccone recounted.
“Jordan also accused Democrats of withholding information from Republican committee staff and being ‘secretive’ about details of itineraries and locations of meetings and visits. Jordan also claimed that Democratic staff took ‘direction from liberal special interests’ before last week's tours, citing a meeting with representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) – a liberal organization currently suing the Trump administration over detention facilities at the border. Jordan claimed the SPLC gave directions to Democratic staff about what to look for and ask about during their tours, as well as suggested questions for staff to pose to detainees and DHS officials during their visit.”
Jordan noted how absolutely no credit or appreciation had been given to agents having to deal with the overcrowded and understaffed conditions.
“One aspect missing from your staff travel to date has been any interest in the well-being of, or resources provided to, the brave men and women who serve to secure our border," Jordan stressed. "Several Border Patrol agents told us the nasty rhetoric from Democrats in Congress – one Member of this committee even likened them to Nazis – hurts morale and makes some agents reluctant to tell people what they do for a living."
A trend of disrespect started by AOC
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was the House member to which Jordan was referring, as she previously claimed border detention centers were “exactly like concentration camps,” alleged women migrant detainees were told to drink out of the toilet. She also repeated the mantra “never again” – previously used to make sure the Nazi German Holocaust of the Jews would never happen again – to call for an end to border detainment conditions.
After her comments discounting the Jewish Holocaust by comparing it to overcrowded border detainment conditions, AOC made another production, with the Examiner describing her as “screaming” at agents and conducting herself in a “threatening” way.
“She comes out screaming at our agents – right at the beginning [of the tour] … Crying and screaming and yelling,” one witness said, according to a July report by the Examiner. “The agents, they wanted to respond, but they held back because she’s a congressional delegate, but when you have someone yelling at you in a threatening manner, they were like, ‘Hey, you need to kinda step back.’”
She responded to a report defending her militant behavior.
“And to these CBP officers saying they felt ‘threatened’ by me – they were literally discussing making a GoFundMe for an officer who attacked my on my tour,” Ocasio-Cortez asserted in a July 1 tweet. “They confiscated my phone, and they were all armed. I’m 5’4”. They’re just upset I exposed their inhumane behavior."