Cummings to DHS Chief: ‘None of Us Would Have Our Children in That Position’
WASHINGTON — Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) berated President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security chief on Thursday for the administration’s treatment of immigrant children along the southern U.S. border.
“You feel like you’re doing a great job, right?” Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan at a hearing about immigration policies.
McAleenan replied, “We’re doing our level best.”
Cummings cut him off: “What does that mean when a child is sitting in their own feces, can’t take a shower? Come on man, what’s that about? None of us would have our children in that position. They are human beings.”
Cummings’ comments came after a Department of Homeland Security Office Inspector General report detailed appalling conditions at immigrant detention centers. The report describes overcrowded cells, children without showers and detainees banging on windows and asking for help, The New York Times reported.
“I want to concentrate on these children. And I want to make sure that they are OK,” Cummings said Thursday.
He told McAleenan he wants to see immediate improvements in the detention centers.
“We are the United States of America. We are the greatest country in the world. We are the ones that can go anywhere in the world and save people, make sure that they have diapers, make sure that they have toothbrushes, make sure that they’re not laying around defecating in some silver paper,” Cummings said.
“Come on, we’re better than that. And I don’t want us to lose sight of that.”
McAleenan defended himself and the administration’s policies during the hearing that lasted for much of the day Thursday. He stressed that his department was doing the best it could, given the influx of immigrants and funding constraints.
“Despite our efforts, the system is overwhelmed,” he said in his written testimony. “The nation is facing a full-blown security and humanitarian crisis along our southwest border. We need Congress to acknowledge the crisis and help us by taking legislative action in support of [Customs and Border Protection] and our partners.”
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