Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) issued a statement in response to being excluded from a February 16th meeting in the U.S. Capitol with Acting Director Thomas Homan of ICE. Rep. Gutiérrez of Illinois was asked to leave the meeting by staffers for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) at the request of Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Speaker Ryan.
Several other Members were excluded from the meeting with the ICE official, including Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Lou Correa (D-CA), Ruben Kihuen (D-NV), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Juan Vargas (D-CA).
Rep. Gutiérrez was among the Members who requested the meeting with the Acting ICE Director in a letter on February 11th. A meeting originally scheduled for February 14th with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other Democrats in the House was cancelled at the last minute by ICE. It was rescheduled to Feb. 16th and turned into a Republican-led meeting run by Chairman Goodlatte and was apparently made invitation-only. Members were told by Chairman Goodltte at the meeting that any further meetings with ICE officials would have to be cleared by the Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman.
Speaker Ryan is not an emperor and does not control who I meet with.-Rep. Luis Gutiérrez
“In 20-plus years, I have never heard of the Republicans controlling what meetings Democrats can have with officials of the Executive Branch and never had a staffer ask me to leave a meeting to which I am entitled to attend,” stated Congressman Gutiérrez, who is a Member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the Chairman of the CHC Taskforce on Immigration. “My constituents have questions about who is being targeted by ICE, which DREAMers with DACA they are targeting for deportation, which victims of domestic violence ICE is deporting, which immigrants at church shelters are being targeted. We know the statements by Trump about targeting criminals is a lie, but we were hoping someone could give us the truth or any information at all.
“The new mass deportation executive orders are unprecedented, but so are the lengths to which the Speaker and Chairman Goodlatte are going to control the information being disseminated to Members of Congress. I expect such dictatorial shenanigans from the Trump Administration, but not from competent, compassionate legislators like Speaker Ryan or from legislators like Bob Goodlatte. Do they have ear pieces feeding them orders from President Bannon or the others making decisions in the White House?” asked the Congressman.
“Speaker Ryan is not an emperor and does not control who I meet with. My colleagues and I asked for this meeting and we still have not been given details by ICE about who they are deporting, why, and how. We simply have hit a stone wall and now Republicans in the House are cooperating in limiting the information that we can provide to our constituents.”
Outside the meeting, an impromptu press conference took place, parts of which were broadcast by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus via Facebook Live (https://www.facebook.com/congressional.hispanic.caucus/videos/10154450226738261/).