March 17, 2017
Latino Democrats in the House complained about Homeland Security Secretary Mike Kelly on Friday for being insensitive and unresponsive to their complaints about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency’s pursuit of illegal aliens.
“He was not familiar with some areas of the law that we had questions about,” said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., after Kelly met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “He reacted poorly to some of the questions that were asked of him. He did attempt to answer certain questions in a very thoughtful way, but still, many, many questions remain.
“And we need to know if ICE agents are not following the policies and the procedures … that there is some oversight of that and a correction of that because we believe there are violations that are occurring,” Sanchez said. She was reacting to reports that ICE agents are entering “sensitive locations” such as hospitals and churches to pick up illegal immigrants for deportation.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said Kelly was “very dismissive” about claims that ICE agents are acting improperly.
Grisham said she felt that Kelly believes the caucus is only concerned about immigrant communities, “based on the demeanor of Secretary Kelly in that meeting and what I thought was a lack of respect and disregard for many members of Congress.”
“We are representing that entire community to get to the truth and get to an environment where there are fair, productive policies,” she said. “Because when you negatively impact due process for one, you have negatively impacted due process for all.”
Sanchez said that neither ICE nor DHS has answered lawmakers’ written questions.
ICE and DHS have “not even [sent] a form letter saying: “We’ve received your inquiry,'” in response to letters directed to the agencies from Hispanic Caucus members, Sanchez said.
“We have never seen that level of complete ignoring of members of Congress’ inquiry,” Sanchez said about her experience with both Democrat and Republican administrations. “To not even get a response…we feel we are sending letters into a black hole.”
Kelly finally met with the caucus on Friday after canceling several times.
“I don’t know what they’re afraid of; we’re very nice people,” Sanchez said.