Gutiérrez delivers blistering criticism of DHS chief over immigration

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) tore into Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump puts Kushner in charge of overseeing border wall construction: report Hillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Minority lawmakers call out Google for hiring former Trump DHS official 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 GohmertTempers flare at tense Judiciary hearing on impeachment Judiciary hearing gets heated as Democratic counsel interrogates GOP staffer Live coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing 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.