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Chairman Nadler Statement at El Paso Field Hearing on "Oversight of the Trump Administration's Border Policies and the Relationship Between Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric and Domestic Terrorism"

Sep 6, 2019

El Paso, T.X. – Today, House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following statement at a Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship hearing on "Oversight of the Trump Administration's Border Policies and the Relationship Between Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric and Domestic Terrorism:"

"I want to begin by thanking my esteemed colleague, Representative Escobar, for welcoming us to El Paso, for her commendable service on the House Judiciary Committee, and for her deep commitment to representing the people of El Paso with strength and integrity.  I also want to thank the University of Texas at El Paso for hosting us today for this very important hearing.

"For two and a half years, the Trump Administration has issued an endless series of draconian immigration policies—some of which have been implemented, and some of which rightfully have been enjoined by the courts—that have had a devastating impact on immigrants here in the United States, and also on those fleeing for their lives and seeking protection along our southern border.

"At the same time, this Administration has used racist and inflammatory language against immigrants.  The President has referred to immigrants as "rapists," "thugs," and "animals" and has described the arrival of asylum seekers as "an invasion of our country."  

"Language such as this is dangerous and can have tragic consequences.  The perpetrator of the horrific mass shooting here in El Paso last month used the term "invasion" in his hate-filled manifesto and later told law enforcement officials that he was targeting "Mexicans."

"This community has not only borne the brunt of the Administration’s chaotic border policies, it is also grieving from the violent consequences of pervasive anti-immigrant rhetoric.  Although I regret that we must continue to confront these issues, I cannot think of a more appropriate venue for this important hearing.

"When I was in El Paso earlier this year, I toured several ports of entry, observed over-crowded Border Patrol facilities, and visited Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.  I also talked with several non-profit organizations in the area and heard first-hand accounts as to how the humanitarian crisis is unfolding.

"Instead of addressing the root causes of migration and competently managing the challenges at our border, the Trump Administration has chosen to dehumanize immigrants and to exploit this crisis for political gain.  In doing so, it has violated American laws and undermined American values.  It has emotionally traumatized many children who have been torn from their families and held in unconscionable conditions.  And it has promoted dangerous rhetoric that contributes to a climate of fear among immigrant communities and that, at times, has served as inspiration for violent attacks against immigrants.

"The Administration’s inhumane treatment of migrants must be viewed in the context of broader problems, deep within the culture of our immigration enforcement system.  These problems were aptly illustrated when racist and misogynist posts in a closed Facebook group of nearly 10,000 current and former Customs and Border Protection officers were recently exposed—posts that joke about migrant deaths and that disparage Congresswomen. 

"The sheer size of this group—and the fact that the Chief of the Border Patrol, Carla Provost, was a member at one time—indicates a culture of disdain and cruelty towards immigrants that has deeply infected the agency and that can only be exacerbated by the bigoted and hateful rhetoric emanating from the White House.  When coupled with this rhetoric, it puts the safety of immigrant communities at even greater risk.

"This all reminds us of the anti-semitic, anti-Italian, anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, anti-Asian rhetoric that stained our country at times in the past and gave rise to racist immigration laws in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"There must be accountability for the policy choices that got us here.  The Trump Administration has repeatedly claimed that the abhorrent conditions and policies at the border are necessary to manage increased numbers of asylum seekers.  But let us be very clear about this.  We have the capability to safely process these migrants and to manage this situation with compassion, rather than with cruelty and racism.

"Instead, the Administration has opted for policies that compromise human safety and that exacerbate the crisis—policies such as locking up asylum seekers and denying them bond hearings; the so-called Migrant "Protection" Protocols, which have forced tens of thousands of asylum-seekers into unfamiliar and often dangerous communities in Mexico; and metering, which arbitrarily limits the number of people who can apply for asylum at official ports of entry each day and forces them to enter irregularly between these ports, subjecting them to further danger.

"I am eager to hear from each of our witnesses today, and I thank them for offering their perspectives on the Administration’s border policies and the disturbing rise of anti-immigrant rhetoric in this country, including from this Administration.

"I thank the Chair for holding this important hearing and I yield back the balance of my time." 

116th Congress