House Hispanic Caucus Barred From ICE Meeting By Ryan And Trump (TWEETS)

The Democratic Hispanic Caucus in the House of Representatives asked for a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In the face of the administration’s increased raids and arrests of undocumented immigrants, members were looking for more information on how federal actions were going to affect their constituents.

After granting the meeting, ICE canceled and rescheduled it, using the excuse that too many people had signed up. According to Nancy Pelosi, what actually happened is that agency officials went running to Trump to figure out how to deal with the situation. Trump insisted that the meeting be bipartisan and limited to 10 people from each party — and he got to choose which ten Democrats would be admitted. 

When members of the Hispanic Caucus showed up for the rescheduled meeting, not one of them was on the list of attendees. Caucus representatives hoped that they would at least be able to attend as guests. However, staff for Paul Ryan — who was not present — asked them to leave, including Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Norma Torres (D-Calif.). Others in the Hispanic Caucus, including Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), had not been allowed into the room.

Gutiérrez said that he was removed by Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokeswoman and the experience left him shaken:

I’m really shocked, bewildered, that the speaker of the House would act as a gatekeeper for the President of the United States and deny fellow members of the House the ability to attend meetings that they called for. I know that there’s a dictatorial spirit at the White House. Apparently it’s infected the speaker’s office here in the Capitol, and I think it’s really, really sad.

Sad, and frightening. Gutiérrez tweeted the following:

Finally, the GOP made a small concession to Democratic objections. They let two members of the Hispanic Caucus into the meeting — Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX), who is vice chairman of the caucus, and the caucus chair, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM).

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (CA) was stunned, telling an aide:

I’ve never been in a meeting where an agency can designate who can attend.

Publicly, she added:

There’s never been a meeting like this. I’ve never seen anything like it. And hopefully never [will] again.

But the insult and disrespect toward the Hispanic Caucus — indeed, our entire Hispanic population — didn’t stop there. Rep. Grisham called what they learned in the meeting “chilling.”  According to ICE acting director Tom Homan, guidance from the White House means that all 11 million undocumented immigrants could be targeted for deportation:

[Homan] confirmed that, given the shift, given the discretion allowed in the executive order … it could include everyone. They didn’t say they were going to do it. He said they could do it — everyone’s at risk.

Both Rep. Castro and Rep. Sanchez came away with the impression that the only thing stopping ICE from such a sweeping action is the current lack of resources to do the job. Castro tweeted:

Obviously, Trump is pandering to his base — the 26% of eligible voters who voted for him — with his mass deportations. He’s too wrapped up in his own reality to realize that fully 79 percent of all Americans think that undocumented immigrants should be able to stay in the country, with the possibility of earning citizenship. Apparently, even a few Trump supporters are sympathetic.

However, those with no voice are the easiest target for a bully and become red meat to throw to the most rabid of Trump’s fans.

Feature photo, Press Conference, screenshot from Facebook video.

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Deborah Montesano

Deborah Montesano is a longtime political activist and blogger. She learned to fight against impossible odds by living for years in Arizona, but recently relocated to the more progressive-friendly city of Portland, Oregon. Find her on Facebook at facebook.com/thepoliticali/ or on Twitter @thepoliticali_1.

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