Hispanic Democrats Barred From Meeting With ICE Director Amid Increased Raids

WASHINGTON — Simmering tensions in the Capitol about President Donald Trump’s immigration executive orders boiled over Thursday, as several members of the Hispanic Caucus were kicked out of a meeting with a top immigration official by staffers of Speaker Paul Ryan.Those who were allowed in described a combative encounter with promises of many more arrests and deportations to come.“There’s never been a meeting like this,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”The hour-long meeting with acting Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan covered a range of concerns about recent arrests and deportations around the country, though members said they left the meeting with many questions unanswered.Ten Democrats were allowed into the meeting, including Pelosi, but members who were removed from the meeting were left fuming outside the closed doors.“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,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. “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.”The Trump administration — either the White House or Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly — was given authority over which Democrats would be able to attend the meeting, said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.Homan told the members that 683 people have been rounded up in five primary target cities and deported since Trump signed his executive order, including in Austin and San Antonio, attendees said.Rep. Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat and the former chairwoman of the caucus, said they were told they “can and should expect more arrests and removals this year.” The only factor constraining ICE from mass deportations on an unprecedented scale, she said, was that they do not have enough resources to do so.If not for that, all 11 million undocumented immigrants could be subject to deportation, Lujan Grisham said.Rep. Joaquin Castro, a San Antonio Democrat and the vice-chairman of the caucus, was also allowed into the meeting and came away saying it was clear that “the Trump administration is going to target as many people as possible.”“The only hesitation they seemed to have was whether they would go after DACA recipients,” Castro said, referring to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama administration program allowing children of unauthorized immigrants who were brought here as minors to remain in the U.S.  Continue reading...

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