The Deportation Hearing That Wasn’t What It Seemed
Today, at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) questioned witnesses about a Trump Administration decision on the jurisdiction of deferred action cases of critically ill illegal child immigrants. An illegal immigrant is granted deferred action on their case based on many factors. At this hearing, two of the witnesses were granted deferred action based on their illnesses.
The Premise: Democrat lawmakers held this hearing in reaction to news of a Trump Administration decision to turn jurisdiction of deferred action immigration cases over from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), both of which are divisions of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). No individual’s case was altered and the final decision on deportation is still in the hands of the same judges.
The Assertion: Democrats’ assertion, as based on their witnesses and questions, is that the Administration’s decision was made with the intent to deport critically ill immigrant children back to their home country, where, sometimes, medication is not available.
The Truth: The Administration’s decision to turn jurisdiction of deferred action cases over to ICE has no effect on the actual cases. The final decision of their case would be in the hands of an immigration judge, whose jurisprudence and sense of humanity, according to one witness, would not allow these vulnerable individuals to be sent to their death.
The Conclusion: Through his questioning, Grothman revealed the hearing as a political stunt by Democrats and that these critically ill children were never really in danger of being deported. The Administration’s decision simply transferred the paperwork from one division of DHS to another. It does not affect the discretion of the immigration court judges, who are likely to continued to defer the cases and keep these individuals in the United States.
Excerpts of Grothman’s questioning
Congressman Glenn Grothman: “I’ve been to the border three times. I respect law enforcement, I deal with a lot of law enforcement, sheriffs department, police department, corrections officers. There’s nobody who I have a higher opinion of than border patrol and ICE. The compassion these folks have had under the most trying circumstances is something that should be commended and I feel bad that some other members of this institution like to slam you folks to make cheap political points. Because if they ever met you and were honest with you, they would have a high opinion of the whole crew down there. Now, I guess we haven’t decided yet that ICE is going to be the one making these determinations, but you’ve dealt with a lot of ICE officials and have been involved for a long time. As a practical matter, could you ever under any circumstances say, if they had that discretion, anybody from ICE kicking the two people on the other end of the panel out of this country? [...] You could not see them kicked out of this country, could you?”
Mr. Thomas Homan: “No.”
Grothman: “We right now have an overall crisis at the border and I think everybody who’s down there knows a variety of things that could be done. Our underlying problem in this country is that we have way, way, way too many people in this country who are not here legally. Could you give us a general summary of a couple of suggestions you have for Congress that we could do that would reduce the number of people in this country illegally so we wouldn’t have to make so many judgement decisions?”
Homan: “There’s three things we’ve been talking about for the last two years. One’s the Flores Settlement Agreement. Back in FY 14 and 15 when the family crisis first started, we detained families for 40 or 50 days until they saw a judge. It wasn’t until Flores re-interpreted the decision that we could only hold them 20 days, which isn’t long enough to see a judge. So, we would like to detain them long enough to see a judge. We did it under the Obama Administration, I don’t know why we can’t do it now.”
Grothman: “We hold President Trump to a significantly higher standard of care than Barack Obama.”
Homan: “But it worked. It worked. Once they saw a judge, a majority lost their cases and were removed. The second thing we can do is look at the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which is causing children to be smuggled by criminal organizations into this country and treat children from Central America the same as we treat children from Mexico. If you can ascertain and prove that they’re not a true victim of trafficking, then they shouldn’t get a whole different process than children from Mexico get. They can be removed easier and reunited with families. The third thing is the asylum levels. Most people pass the first interview at the border at about 88-90 percent rate. But once they get in front of an immigration court, the last time I saw, 88 percent of all Central Americans who claim fear at the border do not get relief from immigration court. So, the delta is too high, we need to close that delta and make it more meaningful where people aren’t released into the United States to not only not appear in court, but to not listen to the orders of the judge. Like I said, 90 percent lose their case, there’s over 100,000 removal orders for family units but less than 2 percent have left.”
Grothman: “Something’s been about, in all these hearings, about separating families. We would be appalled if a minor child from the United States went off to Honduras and the Hondurans government wouldn’t send them back to their parents. Right now, if somebody who is an unaccompanied minor comes to this country, do we send them back to their parents or do we keep them here?”
Homan: “The unaccompanied alien children are given over to ORR, they’re in their custody. Less than two percent are removed, most of them are here. And that’s an issue no one wants to talk about, right? We talked about the 2,500 separations, but at the same time there are 14,000 children in custody of ORR that were smuggled to this country by criminal cartels. That’s inhumane.”
Grothman: “And nobody cares!”
Homan: “I think the government takes better care of them than a criminal cartel would.”
Grothman: “Absolutely. Thank you.”
Click here to view Grothman’s remarks.
U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman is serving his third term representing Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.