Trump Administration Avoiding Senate Hearing on Immigration Enforcement

Democratic Sen. McCaskill had invited ICE officials

Sen. Claire McCaskill sought testimony from ICE. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sen. Claire McCaskill sought testimony from ICE. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 1, 2017 at 9:44am

Securing the border and enforcing immigration law are priorities of the administration of President Donald Trump, but testifying before the Senate?

Maybe not so much.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is set to meet Wednesday morning for a hearing that Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has titled, “The Effects of Border Insecurity and Lax Immigration Enforcement on American Communities,” but no one from the executive branch will be testifying about what they intend to do about the problems.

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, the ranking member on the panel, wrote Thomas Homan, the acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement director, on Feb. 22, to request testimony. Two days later, a response from ICE said that “prior existing commitments” would keep Homan from the hearing.

But the Department of Homeland Security, as it turns out, will be providing no witnesses.

“ICE is the only agency capable of providing detailed answers and information about these cases, and it’s deeply concerning that they’ve declined to send someone to speak with the victim’s family, law enforcement, and Republican and Democratic members of the committee,” McCaskill said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Their absence is creating a troubling pattern of Administration officials continually dodging oversight requests from this committee — a pattern that cannot be allowed to continue.”

The timing is interesting because Trump had been expected to sign a revised executive order on Wednesday regarding restrictions on immigration from certain countries after a previous ban ran into trouble in federal courts.

That unveiling has been pushed back, however, with senior administration officials signaling that it should come later in the week.

The witnesses confirmed for Wednesday’s hearing include a resident of McCaskill’s home state of Missouri, the sheriff of Waukesha County in Johnson’s state of Wisconsin and a representative from the sherrif’s office in Grant County, Wash.