Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Oversight Hearing on U.S. Customs and Border Protection - Border Patrol

2019-07-24 14:30

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee's oversight hearing on U.S. Customs and Border Protection - Border Patrol:

I’d like to thank Chairwoman Roybal-Allard and Ranking Member Fleischmann for holding this important hearing today.

Chief Provost, the Border Patrol has an essential role in securing our border. That role comes with incredible responsibility. You and many of your colleagues have failed to properly fulfill those responsibilities.

It’s been reported that you were a participant in a secret Facebook group used by CBP employees to share racist and xenophobic tropes among other highly offense imagery, including reprehensible jokes about the violent sexual assault of a member of Congress.

I look forward to your explanation for why you participated in this group, and why you failed to report its existence or take any action to shut it down. 

I am deeply concerned that this conduct shows that you and your agency are supporting a dehumanizing culture – or at least a subculture – whose bias extends to how you treat vulnerable populations on a daily basis.

We’ve seen that bias affect the way CBP interacts with migrants. For example, last week, NPR reported that Border Patrol officers asked a 3-year-old Honduran girl to choose which of her parents she would remain with in custody – and which would be separated from the family and sent to Mexico. I think that warrants repeating: your officers asked a 3-year-old to choose between her parents. The family was fleeing MS-13 gang violence and the little girl, Sofi, suffers from a serious heart condition. This trauma could stay with Sofi forever, and asking her to pick a parent is simply shameful.

The Trump Administration has also continued attempts to implement regulations that run contrary to established law.

The asylum rule announced earlier this month would prohibit migrants who have gone through a third country from seeking asylum in the U.S. This would essentially ban all asylum claims for those traveling through Mexico.

But of course, that callousness is the very point of the regulation. From recent interviews Acting Director Morgan has given, it sounds like even if this unlawful regulation is not immediately enjoined, it will only be piloted at one location along the southwest border. Still, the fact that this regulation is even something that’s been contemplated by the administration is horrendous.

While we confront a serious humanitarian crisis at our southern border, a culture of dehumanization festers in the very agency charged with keeping us safe and serving as the face of American values to those seeking refuge.

You have a great deal to explain to this committee today. Thank you.

116th Congress