House Democrats, especially members of the Congressional Hispanic Committee, were frustrated after a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s acting director following news of increased enforcement actions by the federal law enforcement agency.
The meeting was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but ICE canceled the meeting in favor of today’s bipartisan meeting. At the meeting with Acting Director Thomas Homans, Democrats said in a press conference that not all those who wished to attend were allowed.
“The meeting focused on the agency’s targeted enforcement efforts conducted across the nation last week,” a readout of the meeting provided by an ICE spokesperson said.
The members also said they were disappointed that ICE didn’t provide all the information they asked for earlier this week.
“They have agreed to try to get us the information as we requested it in specific categories of information that they did not have with them at the meeting today,” Senior Democratic Whip Linda Sanchez of California said.
Sanchez said one positive aspect of the meeting was when Homans said any “verified incidences of ICE abuse” will be reported to the inspector general for investigation.
“Mr. Homan emphasized that ICE does not conduct arrests indiscriminately and does not establish checkpoints; rather, the agency’s deportation officers target pre-identified individuals for arrest at specific locations based on law enforcement leads,” the ICE readout said. “He noted that those arrested in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City were individuals who posed a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system.”
Still, some Democrats were disheartened by what they heard.
“It was hard to not leave that meeting and believe that the Trump administration is going to target as many immigrants as possible,” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said. “The only hesitation they seem to have is whether they would go after DACA recipients,”
Sanchez said twice that she believed ICE’s finite amount of resources was the only limitation in how the agency chose to target immigrants.
Some information provided, Democrats said, was incomplete. ICE reported 683 total people were apprehended from five cities this week. However, CHC chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham said this did not include all the ICE actions this week.
“What we’re seeing in the news, and we’re collecting as representatives that it is greater than five,” Lujan Grisham said. “For example, I know that there was ICE action in New Mexico and that’s not included in that number.”
The CHC sought to meet with Homans earlier this week, but Lujan Grisham said not all those who wished to attend were allowed. The Albuquerque Democrat was one of those allowed to attend the meeting.
“Our caucus will continue to demand answers and demand meetings and at the end of this meeting, Acting Director Homans did say that the entire caucus would have a meeting with Director Homans,” she said. “And I will make sure that that happens in short order.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the limitations on who could attend the meeting—and that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan decided who could attend—was a first for her.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, the only one like it and hopefully never again,” she said.