Concerned interests in Congress continue to try and get to the bottom of the Trump administration’s dangerous treatment of immigrants they’re holding in detention. To that end, this week the House Oversight Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee held a hearing on an announced plan from the Trump administration to cancel the option for deportation deferments for immigrants with dangerous diseases. Trump administration officials flaked in the face of many questions, and panel members including prominent Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) tore into the officials for their refusals to answer questions.
Speaking to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials including Daniel Renaud, who serves as the agency’s associate director of field operations and Timothy Robbins, their acting executive associate director of ICE’s enforcement and removal operations, Ocasio-Cortez bluntly insisted about their behavior:
‘This is a threat to the rule of law.’
In response to the stonewalling that the ICE officials engaged in, having repeatedly refused to engage with the committee members asking them questions, Ocasio-Cortez insisted that they reveal by the end of this week what officials were behind their answer strategy and suggested a subpoena may be in order.
Pressley added separately:
‘Just when I think that the occupant of this White House and his xenophobic administration cannot reach any new lows—they decide to go even lower. Giving seriously ill children and their families 33 days to leave the country and risk being deported.’
When Renaud did answer even via a twisted, half-response, his take was unsettling to say the least. He refused to comment on any sort of “moral” aspect to the directive against ill migrants, insisting instead that he was essentially “just following orders.” Sound familiar?
He told Democratic California Congressman Mark DeSaulnier:
‘I am an operator, I am not a policy maker, so my role is to comment on policy to the extent that we can make it operationally feasible or to indicate when it is not operationally feasible. I am not in the position to pass judgment on whether I like or don’t like a statute, a regulation or a policy. And those are some of the hardest times in my career and those of the people who work with me, where we are either required to grant a benefit to someone we believe is a threat… and it’s also hard when we have to say no to someone who is a very empathetic case.’
So the best he’s got is that it’s “hard”? Are there any boundaries to what he’s willing to do on behalf of his administration? What are the depths he’d go to and the things he’d do if ordered?
DeSaulnier bluntly asserted to those gathered that the letter they’d sent announcing the new targeting of those with dangerous, terminal illnesses was “a cruel, heartless thing to send out.”
It’s one of a number of similar moves that extend well beyond the high-profile push for a wall blocking off Mexico and include wide-ranging attempts at dialing back asylum protections.
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