Hispanic Congressmen and women excluded from meeting with head of I.C.E.

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On Thursday, February 16, Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez and several members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — including California Representatives Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Lou Correa (CA-46), Norma Torres (CA-35), Juan Vargas (CA-51) and Grace Napolitano (CA-32) — were barred from attending a meeting between the House Judiciary Committee and the acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (I.C.E.) Thomas Homan, despite the fact that Rep. Gutiérrez and others are members of that committee. Gutiérrez issued this press release.

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Washington, DC – Today (Feb. 16, 2017), Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) issued a statement in response to being excluded from a meeting in the U.S. Capitol with Acting Director Thomas Homan of ICE.  Rep. Gutiérrez was asked to leave the meeting by staffers for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the request of Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Speaker Ryan.  Several other Members were excluded from the meeting with the ICE official, including Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Lou Correa (D-CA), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Juan Vargas (D-CA).

Rep. Gutiérrez was among the Members who requested the meeting with the Acting ICE Director in a letter on February 11 (http://bit.ly/2lYxChf).  A meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other Democrats in the House was cancelled at the last minute by ICE.  It was rescheduled to today and turned into a Republican-led meeting run by Chairman Goodlatte and was apparently made invitation-only.  Members were told by Chairman Goodltte at the meeting that any further meetings with ICE officials would have to be cleared by the Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman.

The following is a statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez, who is a Member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the Chairman of the CHC Taskforce on Immigration.  He represents the 4th District of Illinois and is starting his 13th term.

In 20-plus years, I have never heard of the Republicans controlling what meetings Democrats can have with officials of the Executive Branch and never had a staffer ask me to leave a meeting to which I am entitled to attend.  My constituents have questions about who is being targeted by ICE, which DREAMers with DACA they are targeting for deportation, which victims of domestic violence ICE is deporting, which immigrants at church shelters are being targeted.  We know the statements by Trump about targeting criminals is a lie, but we were hoping someone could give us the truth or any information at all.

The new mass deportation executive orders are unprecedented, but so are the lengths to which the Speaker and Chairman Goodlatte are going to control the information being disseminated to Members of Congress.  I expect such dictatorial shenanigans from the Trump Administration, but not from competent, compassionate legislators like Speaker Ryan or from legislators like Bob Goodlatte.  Do they have ear pieces feeding them orders from President Bannon or the others making decisions in the White House?

Speaker Ryan is not an emperor and does not control who I meet with.  My colleagues and I asked for this meeting and we still have not been given details by ICE about who they are deporting, why, and how.  We simply have hit a stone wall and now Republicans in the House are cooperating in limiting the information that we can provide to our constituents.

Outside the meeting, an impromptu press conference took place, parts of which were broadcast by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus via Facebook Live.

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