The new Democratic head of the House Homeland Security Committee on Friday ripped Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for peddling “outright lies” about border security and called for an oversight hearing.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) made the accusation in a scathing letter to Nielsen following a private presentation to Congress in which she tried to promote President Donald Trump’s border wall by falsely claiming thousands of terrorists were apprehended at the southern border last year.
“Your border security presentation submitted to Congress today is yet another example of the misinformation and outright lies the Trump Administration has used to make the case for the President’s boondoggle border wall,” Thompson wrote, also referencing the ongoing partial government shutdown and the recent deaths of two children at the border.
The letter was posted on Twitter by Bloomberg News’ Laura Litvan.
Thompson asked Nielsen to appear for a hearing and requested “any documents, contracts, records, memoranda, correspondence, or other communications” related to the border wall, the “metering” of asylum-seekers at ports of entry ― which refers to the use of daily quotas ― and the treatment of children in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody.
The chairman specifically requested documents related to the deaths of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin and 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo, two Guatemalan children who died in CBP custody.
Thompson also described the wall as a waste of resources and expressed concern about the administration “squandering American taxpayer money” on an ineffective solution for legitimate border security issues.
“In your year-long tenure, you have testified before the Committee only once,” he added. “Another appearance is overdue.”
Nielsen has been given until Jan. 18 to gather and submit the requested materials.
After Nielsen’s Friday presentation to Congress, McClatchy reported that lawmakers were taken aback by her remarks.
According to an individual familiar with the meeting who spoke to the outlet, Nielsen told Trump, presidential adviser Jared Kushner and senior congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle that 17,000 criminals and more than 3,000 terrorists were apprehended in 2018 along the southern border.
While she was reportedly attempting to convince Democrats to back a full border wall, they took issue with her statements three minutes after she began speaking, the source told McClatchy.
The government shutdown has passed the two-week mark as Trump continues to refuse to sign any funding package that doesn’t include more than $5 billion for his border wall.