Fox News has an exclusive report this afternoon which is sure to get more attention this week. The Department of Homeland Security has denied Democratic staffers sent by the House Oversight Committee access to ICE facilities.
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.
But sources told Fox News 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. A DHS official said that ICE visits will still be allowed this week, but with a two-hour time limit. One of those visits took place on Tuesday.
“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 told Fox News in an email Wednesday. “DHS communicated to the committee that due to their conduct, CBP could not support visits from the committee this week.”
This started last week after committee staff visited one facility but after the planned tour ended one member of the staff refused to leave. A DHS Assistant Secretary wrote a letter to Elijah Cummings, Majority leader of the Oversight Committee, saying that his staff had told her they refused to, “abide by DHS guidelines.”
Rep. Jim Jordan also sent a letter to Rep. Cummings complaining about the staff behavior. Jordan also accused Cummings of coordinating with the Southern Poverty Law Center prior to visits. “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 wrote.
The Democratic take on all of this is that DHS is trying to shut down legitimate oversight to prevent Congress it from gathering damaging information on the administration. So this is both a battle between co-equal branches and a political battle between parties. Democrats have done well by pushing outrage over Trump’s border policies for the past couple of years. The fact that Obama had many of the same policies and the same overcrowded facilities Dems are now touring shows how partisan an effort this is. But ultimately I suspect Oversight will get effort to the sites and the Democrats will do what they do.
Ultimately, what’s really going to matter is whether or not the number of people arriving at the border keeps dropping. If so, then the overcrowding problem will eventually resolve itself. If not then the real crisis will be unavoidable no matter what Democrats do.