House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) blasted the Department of Homeland Security on Thursday after the DHS cancelled the committee’s scheduled tours at 11 migrant detention facilities.
Cummings sent acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan a letter telling him that the department’s actions were “inconsistent” with McAleenan’s previous testimony that he welcomed congressional visits to the facilities.
The Oversight chair listed several “troubling reports” from the committee’s inspections last week, during which detainees alleged that they were being pressured into signing documents in English without a translator, toddlers were being fed burritos and “hundreds” of detainees were providing up to eight hours of labor in a “voluntary work program” that paid only $1.00-$1.50 per day.
“It appears that the Administration expects Congress to be satisfied with receiving agency tours of facilities–in some cases without the ability to photograph conditions or interview detainees–and not to question the policies or decisions that agency officials make,” Cummings wrote. “That is not the way effective oversight works.”
“Congress has an independent responsibility under the Constitution to determine whether federal programs are operating as they should be–not merely to accept the Administration’s word for it,” he continued.
Read the letter below: