Gutiérrez delivers blistering criticism of DHS chief over immigration

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) tore into Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenOvernight Energy: Mueller report reveals Russian efforts to sow division over coal jobs | NYC passes sweeping climate bill likened to 'Green New Deal' | EPA official says agency may ban asbestos | Energy Dept. denies Perry planning exit The Hill's 12:30 Report: Inside the Mueller report Energy Dept denies report that Rick Perry is planning to leave Trump admin MORE at a congressional hearing on Thursday over her department’s enforcement of immigration laws, invoking the upcoming Christmas holiday in accusing her of lying about administration policies.

Gutiérrez, who is departing Congress, used the entirety of his time at the House Judiciary hearing meant to question Nielsen to deliver a scathing critique of her leadership of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as the Trump administration’s stance on immigration generally.

“Secretary Nielsen, the majority on this committee must think you’re doing a fantastic job because they ordered this hearing so that the secretary could look tough and remorseless just in time for the holidays,” the Hispanic lawmaker said.

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“If you still have your job, which always seems to be a big question, in three weeks — we’ll see if you still have the same sympathetic questions when you come back,” he continued.

Gutiérrez also took the opportunity to accuse Nielsen and other administration officials of lying, citing her repeated claims that DHS did not have a policy on separating immigrant families.

“There is one thing this administration has done better than any other administration has in American history, which is lie," he said.

He pulled out a poster of a tweet she sent in June maintaining that the department did not have such a policy in place, referring to her statement as a “whopper.”

“It is repugnant to me and astonishing to me that during Christmas … a time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph,” the lawmaker said. “Thank God there wasn’t a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt. Thank God that wall wasn’t there, and thank God there wasn’t an administration like this or he would too have perished.”

“Shame on everybody that separates children and allows them to stay on the other side of the border fearing death, fearing sickness,” Gutiérrez concluded. “Shame on us for wearing our badge of Christianity during Christmas, and allowing the secretary to come here and lie.”

Nielsen quickly hit back at the remarks, saying that calling her a liar is “fighting words” and that she’s not a liar.

The DHS chief, who noted that Gutiérrez left the room during her response, repeated her statement that the department did not have a policy of separating families. And she cited other efforts from her agency to help migrant families before they even reach the U.S. border.

“I take personal offense on behalf of the 240,000 men and women of the Department of Homeland Security,” she said.

Republicans at the hearing also bristled at Gutiérrez’s remarks.

“It grieves me for anyone who’s part of this committee to slander you and be remorseless when they make slanderous comments about you or mean-spirited remarks about people in the admininistration who simply want to enforce the law,” said Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google face tough questions on white nationalism | Nielsen's exit raisers cyber worries | McConnell calls net neutrality bill 'dead on arrival' | Facebook changes terms for EU data Republicans offer 'free market alternative' to paid family leave YouTube shuts down comments on House hearing on white nationalism over hateful remarks MORE (R-Texas.)

He also asked Nielsen if Jesus, Mary and Joseph would be allowed to enter the U.S. under its current asylum laws as they fled King Herod. She replied that they would be.