House Homeland Security Committee chairman asks Nielsen to testify on ‘flawed’ border agenda

Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment House votes to kill impeachment effort against Trump Capitol Police chief says threats against lawmakers increasing MORE (D-Miss.), the new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele Nielsen Trump's family separation policy has taken US to 'lowest depth possible,' says former immigration lawyer Four heated moments from House hearing on conditions at border facilities Chuck Todd on administration vacancies: 'Is this any way to run a government?' MORE Friday requesting her to testify in front of the committee regarding the Trump administration’s border security agenda.

“As chairman, I intend to ensure the Committee on Homeland Security fulfills its constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight of your Department, including its implementation of President TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE’s border policy. In your year-long tenure, you have testified before the Committee only once. Another appearance is overdue,” Thompson wrote.

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“The Committee’s first hearing will focus on critical border security matters, to include the border wall, metering of individuals seeking asylum at ports of entry, and the treatment of children in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody. As such, I request your participation.”

Thompson ripped a presentation Nielsen submitted to Congress Friday defending the Trump administration’s immigration and border policies.

“Your border security presentation submitted to Congress today is yet another example of the misinformation and outright lies the Trump Administration has used to make the case for the President’s boondoggle border wall, defend the government shutdown, and distract the American people from a border policy so flawed that children have died in Department of Homeland Security custody,” he wrote. 

The strongly worded letter suggests Democrats are serious about making good on their vow to provide vigorous oversight of the Trump administration as they take control of the House of Representatives.

The Trump administration’s border policies and the Department of Homeland Security have been criticized for months after the White House introduced a series of hard-line stances on immigration.

The White House’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which was ultimately repealed, drew widespread condemnation for causing a spike in family separations at the border and sending thousands of children to government-run detention centers. Two migrant children, Jakelin Caal Maquin and Felipe Gómez Alonzo, recently died in government custody.

Trump also proposed policies to restrict migrants’ paths to asylum, such as disallowing immigrants in the country illegally from seeking asylum and forcing migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while their requests are processed. Both policies have faced challenges from federal courts.

The president has doubled down in recent weeks on his demand for border wall funding, requiring that $5.6 billion be included in any spending legislation to end a partial government shutdown that is entering its third week. 

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSally Yates: Moral fiber of US being 'shredded by unapologetic racism' Al Green calls for additional security for House members after Trump rally #IStandWithPresTrump trends in response to #IStandWithIlhan MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE (D-N.Y.) have both said they would not agree to allocate any additional funds for the wall. However, Trump said Friday he “may” declare a national emergency to employ the military to build the wall.

“Squandering American taxpayer money on a wall may satisfy a segment of the President’s political supporters, but it will not solve the real border security challenges facing our Nation,” Thompson wrote of Trump’s signature campaign promise.

A spokeswoman for the department said Nielsen has been in contact with House and Senate leadership about the subject.

“The Secretary testified before a House Committee two weeks ago on this topic where she answered dozens of questions from members. She has been meeting with House and Senate leadership where she has repeatedly sought to provide them with vital information pertaining to the humanitarian crisis on the border. We look forward to receiving the reported request and will review it,” Katie Waldman said.