Leading Democrats are angry at a decision by the Department of Homeland Security to deny staffers from the Government Oversight Committee access to migrant detention centers after DHS officials said they were "rude" and "disruptive" during a visit last week.
“I am writing to express my deep concern that the Department of Homeland Security decided to block Committee staff from conducting visits to 11 detention facilities just days after previous staff inspections revealed potentially serious ongoing problems with the treatment of children and adults in DHS custody — including blocking visits to sites where the Inspector General warned about an ‘immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained,’” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the committee, said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
He said the “last-minute denial of access” was not acceptable while adding that it would impair the committee’s “ability to conduct its oversight responsibility in an effective manner.”
Initially, sources told Fox News that the cited the behavior of Democratic staffers as the reason behind the cancellation. The agency said that staffers "interferred" with law enforcement operations that included their refusal to leave one detention facility after their scheduled window had expired. DHS said they skipped other tours even though officers had prepared for them and were waiting while being "rude" to others.
“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.
Cummings, in his letter, disputed that. “Committee staff were not ‘rude’ and never once refused to abide by instructions from agency officials,” he wrote. “Committee staff comported themselves professionally at all times while defending the authority of Congress to conduct an independent investigation of these well-documented abuses.”
He also said that staff was “respectful of all facility staff” and complied with "all directives."
Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in a letter to Cummings on Wednesday, said that Democratic staff coordinated and “took direction from liberal special interests” before meeting with detainees.