House Committees Investigate Unprecedented Firings at DHS
Washington, D.C. (Apr. 25, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary, and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seeking documents relating to recent actions by President Donald Trump and his top aide, Stephen Miller, to remove senior leaders throughout DHS who reportedly refused orders to violate the law.
“We are deeply concerned that the firing and forced resignation of these officials puts the security of the American people at risk,” the Chairmen wrote. “We are also concerned that the President may have removed DHS officials because they refused his demands to violate federal immigration law and judicial orders. Moreover, we are concerned by reports that, even as he has removed the Department’s leadership, the President has sought to empower a White House aide, Stephen Miller, to ‘be in charge of handling all immigration and border affairs.’”
Earlier this month, DHS announced that Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles, DHS Undersecretary for Management Claire Grady, and Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Ronald Vitiello were departing from their senior leaderships positions.
The Chairmen highlighted several instances in which the President was upset that senior officials refused directives to violate the law—including when Secretary Nielsen reportedly refused the President’s directives to close the Port of El Paso, restart mass child separations, and deny entry to all asylum seekers.
The Chairmen also expressed concern that Miller reportedly called several DHS officials to exert pressure to make extreme immigration policy decisions, apparently as part of a broader pattern. In one instance, Miller reportedly intervened in an individual immigration case and demanded that an individual be deported.
On April 17, 2019, Cummings invited Miller to testify before the Oversight Committee on May 1, 2019, about the Trump Administration’s policy to intentionally separate immigrant children from their parents at the border to deter them from coming to the United States, transferring asylum seekers to sanctuary cities as a form of illegal retribution against the President’s political adversaries, and firing top Administration officials who refuse orders to violate the law.
Last night, the White House sent a letter declining to make Mr. Miller available—and claiming that he is “absolutely immune” from congressional testimony despite his outsize role over immigration policy and detailed interactions with DHS officials—and directing congressional inquiries to DHS.
Click here to read today’s letter.