, 82 tweets, 100 min read Read on Twitter
Good morning all! In a few minutes the House Oversight committee will hold a hearing on child separation and the border, where Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan (@DHSMcAleenan) will testify. I'll be live-tweeting in this thread.

Here's the live feed: c-span.org/video/?462642-…
@DHSMcAleenan Today's hearing is in some ways the second part to a hearing held last Friday, where members of congress and advocates testified about conditions at the border. You can find my thread on that hearing here.
@DHSMcAleenan We begin with Chair @RepCummings, who gives his opening statement. He begins by describing a new report his committee put out last week on what he calls the "inhumane" practice of separating families. Here's a link. oversight.house.gov/news/press-rel…
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings .@RepCummings describes McAleenan as "one of the key architects of the Trump administration's child separation policy," pointing to a memo McAleenan sent to Sec. Nielsen recommending DHS adopt a policy where families would be separated.

Here's that memo. pogo.org/document/2018/…
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings .@RepCummings emphasizes that the purpose of family separation was to deter people from coming to the United States, and criticizes @DHSMcAleenan for previously having testified that DHS kept good records on families who'd been broken up. Indeed, all evidence is to the contrary.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings As a final note, @RepCummings criticizes @DHSMcAleenan for publicly claiming that reports of seriously terrible conditions at the border were "unsubstantiated," point to two recent OIG reports confirming them.

Here's a thread about one of those reports.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings .@RepCummings finishes by listing all of the programs that the Trump administration ended, which he says have led to more people being unnecessarily detained, e.g. calling out the Trump admin for ending the Family Case Management Program.

More info here: womensrefugeecommission.org/rights/resourc…
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings We move now to Rep. @Jim_Jordan, who instantly begins as he did last week by attacking Democrats for having previously rejected the idea of a "crisis" at the border, and calls out people for criticizing DHS officers. He then thanks @DHSMcAleenan for his service.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings @Jim_Jordan Rep @Jim_Jordan then moves to an attack on House Judiciary Chair @RepJerryNadler, citing his comments that CBP may have been responsible for "negligible homicide" and saying that those comments were "wrong" and "despicable."
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings @Jim_Jordan @RepJerryNadler Rep @Jim_Jordan continues to criticize the rhetoric of Democrats, linking their use of the phrase "concentration camps" to the recent incident in Tacoma where a person tried to set fire to an ICE detention center and got shot and killed. washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/07…
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings @Jim_Jordan @RepJerryNadler Rep @Jim_Jordan rejects any claims border facilities are inadequate, citing the existence of air conditioning, water and supplies as proof otherwise.

But complaints go far beyond just temperature and lack of water and food—lack of medical care, overcrowding, and bad conduct too.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings @Jim_Jordan @RepJerryNadler A brief note as we continue: I use a lot of acronyms about agencies. Here's some information about three agencies that will come up a lot at this hearing: ICE, CBP, and ORR.

@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings @Jim_Jordan @RepJerryNadler Now to the testimony of @DHSMcAleenan who says he will provide a "much-needed account" of the "extraordinary" actions that he says CBP have taken to "protect migrants in our custody."

He says "we are facing an unprecedented crisis at the border."
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings @Jim_Jordan @RepJerryNadler McAleenan emphasizes that over 300,000 children have entered CBP custody since the start of FY2019 in October 1st. This is definitely true; although overall apprehensions are still below 2007 levels, families are at new highs.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings @Jim_Jordan @RepJerryNadler .@DHSMcAleenan emphasizes multiple times that he's been calling the situation at the border a crisis over over a year, and says he's admitting conditions were bad in the past, but rejects claims CBP hasn't tried to do its best.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings @Jim_Jordan @RepJerryNadler .@DHSMcAleenan says that two main things have helped lower numbers arriving at the border; the tariff deal in June which led to increased Mexican enforcement and Congress giving CBP billions of dollars.

As many have pointed out, border numbers always drop in the summer.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepCummings @Jim_Jordan @RepJerryNadler .@DHSMcAleenan once again calls for Congress to change asylum laws, saying that the only way to stop people coming is to change the laws.
Interestingly, @DHSMcAleenan ends by discussing "Zero Tolerance" and family separation, saying it led to parents being separated as happens with any criminal prosecution.

That's a bit disingenuous; after parents LEFT criminal custody, they WEREN'T reunited with their children.
@DHSMcAleenan .@DHSMcAleenan's defense of family separations as a necessary and normal byproduct of criminal prosecutions ignores that:

1) Prosecutions weren't required
2) Many parents got only 1-2 days in jail, and weren't reunited afterwards
3) Hundreds were deported without reunification.
@DHSMcAleenan We move to questioning, beginning with @RepRaskin, who immediately goes after McAleenan's claims that families are ONLY separated in rare circumstances, pointing out that one parent was separated for a prior marijuana possession conviction, and asks: Is that grounds to separate?
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin After being asked if a marijuana possession conviction would be grounds to separate, @DHSMcAleenan does not answer and just repeats his claims that it's always in the interest of the child. When pushed by @RepRaskin , he says he'll look into it.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin Now @RepRaskin asks about situations where parents have been separated from their kids on reports from foreign government including "gang affiliation." He says that is taken into consideration. Here's great reporting on this. propublica.org/article/immigr…
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin Some really, really effective questioning from @RepRaskin, who is citing multiple credible reports of family separations that occurred on grounds beyond what @DHSMcAleenan implied happened, including reports that a father was separated from his kids because he was HIV positive.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin .@RepRaskin cites prior testimony from @JenniferNagda on separated kids she'd worked with. "On average, these kids were seven years old, and they were in custody for 115 days before seeing their parents." Asks McAleenan to commit to changing standards for child separations.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda We move right to @RepCloudTX, who begins by reading a Obama statement (which he doesn't mention until after he's finished talking), where Obama basically offered similar policy changes to what McAleenan wants.

Worth noting the advocacy community STRONGLY disagreed with Obama.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX Attempts to "gotcha" border advocates by citing Obama, Biden, or Jeh Johnson are not particularly effective because most of us were sharply critical of Obama administration policies like family detention, and his rhetoric on the border.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX Now @DHSMcAleenan says his first extremely deceptive statistic, that families held in family detention under Obama had cases that took only 45 days in average.

But that's because detention caused many to give up early. Cases of those who applied for asylum took months or years.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX .@RepCloudTX asks why more Border Patrol officers haven't been trained to conduct credible fear interviews, saying the quiet part out loud and suggesting that this would lead to more people being turned away early.

This is a terrible idea. cmsny.org/publications/h…
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX In response, @DHSMcAleenan agrees that more Border Patrol officers should carry out credible fear interviews, suggesting it would speed things up.

Respectfully, that's a ridiculous claim. CFIs take hours and hours, which would divert Border Patrol even more from core duties.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX We move to Rep. @GerryConnolly, who notes the hearing was delayed so @DHSMcAleenan could review the House Oversight report on family separations. He talks about a child who was 8 months old, who was taken from father and sent to a facility in AZ where he spent 6 months.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly Rep. @GerryConnolly on the child separated: "He spent half of his life without his dad, in the custody of US officials. Meanwhile, his dad was transported to three different ICE facilities and ultimately deported after two months."

He asks @DHSMcAleenan why that happened.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly In response to Rep. @GerryConnolly, @DHSMcAleenan essentially says "That shouldn't have been allowed," saying "there must have been another issue" with the parent. Once again, McAleenan refuses to admit any separations could ever have been carried out in violation of policy.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly .@DHSMcAleenan says that no parent was deported without the right to decide if they wanted to reunite with their child. This is demonstrably false, as the @ACLU and others have revealed. Many, many parents did not get that option and were deported with no news of their kids.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly @ACLU Now on to @RepCarolMiller, who begins by asking @DHSMcAleenan to discuss what steps CBP takes when assessing an "illegal family unit" who arrives at the border. That's a new term for me.

McAleenan repeats his previous testimony on grounds for separations.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly @ACLU @RepCarolMiller .@RepCarolMiller is giving McAleenan an opportunist to tout statistics, including that CBP has carried out 3800 rescues this year, and asking how many many large groups have arrived at the border (very many).
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly @ACLU @RepCarolMiller We move now to the specter of so-called "fraudulent" families, which @RepCarolMiller says has occurred in 5,500 cases (no source for that number). While no one denies this happens, it's exceedingly rare. 99% of all families are legitimate and real families.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly @ACLU @RepCarolMiller Now on to @CongressmanRaja , who asks about a letter he sent to McAleenan asking how DHS will actually use the funding that Congress appropriated recently, to ensure that it's used as Congress intended.

McAleenan says DHS is using half of the money to build new facilities.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly @ACLU @RepCarolMiller @CongressmanRaja McAleenan says the remaining half of the money Congress appropriated will go towards things like paying agents overtime, medical contracts, and more.

@CongressmanRaja asks if any of that money will go to ICE beds. McAleenan admits Congress did not appropriate funds for that.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly @ACLU @RepCarolMiller @CongressmanRaja Now @CongressmanRaja asks about the reports of terrible Facebook conduct from Border Patrol officials, asking whether McAleenan or Mark Morgan were members of the group. McAleenan says updates on investigation by next month. Here's more info on that group.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly @ACLU @RepCarolMiller @CongressmanRaja .@CongressmanRaja ends by asking "How do you define Zero Tolerance"?

McAleenan cites in response both President's Jan 25, 2017 EO ending most prosecutorial discretion, and Sessions Zero Tolerance memo.
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly @ACLU @RepCarolMiller @CongressmanRaja We move to @chiproytx, who asks whether Dems deliberately didn't fund ICE beds in border supplemental.

McAleenan says "What I'm trying to emphasize is the impact it has on adults waiting at the border."

Waiting? They're locked up! DHS can release them at any point!
@DHSMcAleenan @RepRaskin @JenniferNagda @RepCloudTX @GerryConnolly @ACLU @RepCarolMiller @CongressmanRaja @chiproytx Rep. @chiproytx now very rapid-firing questioning McAleenan with a number of yes/no questions citing things like very high border numbers, whether Border Patrol is "overwhelmed."
Another deceptive claim from @DHSMcAleenan, who says that fewer people are claiming asylum now than in the past.

But CBP is releasing most families BEFORE they can go through the border asylum process, which means of course number are going down.
@DHSMcAleenan Now @chiproytx attacks Democrats for not funding more ICE detention beds. What he conveniently leaves out is that ICE has massively overspent its appropriated funding in the past, with the agency holding nearly 10,000 more people than Congress gave it funding for.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx We move to @RepSpeier, who is showing pictures of horrifying conditions in detention to McAleenan, including a man held for 40 days without a shower or opportunity to brush his teeth. She says "This would not be allowed as a kennel for dogs."
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier Now @RepSpeier says of conditions at the border "It is unacceptable and it needs to change. We don't treat human beings like that."

She is right. If the police arrested a serial killer, the serial killer would be treated better than people held for 40 days without a shower.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier In response to @RepSpeier, @DHSMcAleenan again says he admits a change is need, but once again says the problem is lack of ICE detention beds.

Again, release is an option! CBP is 100% legally able to release people instead of holding them in illegal an inhumane conditions.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier .@RepSpeier talks about separation of non parent/child family units. "One of the children that we met was an eight-year-old. His mother was dead, his father was elderly. He was brought here by his 25-year old sister and separated at the border."
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier The issue that @RepSpeir raises is real, but is tricky to address. As McAleenan points out, by law, the TVPRA defines an "unaccompanied" child as someone who came without a "parent" or "legal guardian," so to some extent CBP's hands are tied.

Many agree this should be changed.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier And with that, the hearing goes into a break for the House to go vote on bills on the floor. The hearing will reconvene at some later point once those votes are over. I'll try to be back for the hearing to restart, but may miss the first few minutes. Thanks for following so far!
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier A note on the point I made two tweets ago about the TVPRA requiring CBP to separate kids from non-parent family members like brothers/sisters or aunts/uncles. There may be a way around that without changing the law.

See this thread:
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier Of course, while I was out at a meeting, the hearing reconvened and I appear to have missed the last 20 minutes or so. My apologies.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier As I come back to the hearing, @RepCummings asks McAleenan to defend his previous claims that children separated from parents were well-tracked, which the @DHSOIG and HHS OIG said they were not.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG In response, @DHSMcAleenan tries to walk a very fine line, suggesting that he never implied that DHS had an integrated database to track children (they did not) but only that CBP had data on who was separated. That is... really parsing words.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG Back to Rep. @Jim_Jordan who once again goes after Democrats for their rhetoric and for not funding ICE beds.

As I've said time and time again, ICE is massively overspending its resources already and has blatantly ignored Congressional spending instructions in the past.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan McAleenan rejects all implications that there is a "deficit of empathy" among Border Patrol agents.

Someone should ask him what the term "tonc" means.

Hint: It's a Border Patrol term for immigrants, which is from the sound a flashlight makes hitting someone on the head.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan We move now to Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who asks about ICE's practice of targeting sponsors who take children out of ORR custody. She (very correctly) notes that this was a reason kids spent more time in ORR custody.

@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan Rep. Norton now asks McAleenan if he agrees that "metering," the practice of forcing people to wait in Mexico for months to access the asylum process, has caused more people to cross illegally.

McAleenan says bluntly that it has not. Wow. I couldn't disagree more.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan Here's what the DHS Office of Inspector General said about metering.

"The fact that both aliens and the Border Patrol reported that metering leads to increased
illegal border crossings strongly suggests a relationship between the two."

@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan McAleenan repeats dangerously inaccurate information about the Family Case Management Program, which had a 99% success rate

He says that 115 were ordered removed but didn't leave. But this is deeeply wrong; Trump ended FCMP in June 2017, BEFORE almost any were ordered deported.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan McAleenan has repeated this claim about FCMP before.

The program was proven to work. It was killed years early for what sources suggest was political reasons alone.

Now, years after FCMP was killed, McAleenan is blaming it for people NO LONGER IN THE PROGRAM for not leaving.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan We move back to @CongressmanHice, who asks McAleenan to dispute claims that individuals were not given enough water in custody.

McAleenan says border policies are "overseen by multiple layers of oversight."

But our reports show that CBP has a massive accountability problem.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan @CongressmanHice In 2014, we published a study showing that CBP took "no action" in 97 percent of all complaints filed against its agents, suggesting a massive institutional problem with impunity.

@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan @CongressmanHice In 2017, we published a followup report, "Still No Action Taken," which reviewed updated data and found that in more recent cases, 96 percent of cases STILL ended with no action taken.

McAleenan's suggestion that CBP oversight works is... not supported.

@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan @CongressmanHice Now to Rep. @JimmyGomezCA, who is discussing migration patterns, how the net-migration of Mexicans is under zero, and how overall undocumented population is decreasing.

McAleenan agrees with first point but disputes second, saying those stats may not be true after 2019.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan @CongressmanHice @JimmyGomezCA Rep. @JimmyGomezCA asks: if there's a "magnet" to bring families, why aren't Mexicans also taking advantage of that?

McAleenan says it's largely economic differences btwn Mexico & Guatemala.

Gomez: That was my point, it's not just a single "magnet," it's more complicated.
@DHSMcAleenan @chiproytx @RepSpeier @RepCummings @DHSOIG @Jim_Jordan @CongressmanHice @JimmyGomezCA Rep. @JimmyGomezCA asking a great question about serious questions about conditions inside private prisons in ICE detention facilities, referencing this OIG report on terrible conditions inside those facilities.
In response @DHSMcAleenan says ICE is committed to enforcing detention standards in for-profit prisons and aggressively fixes problems.

As a former immigration lawyer who's been in detention centers that is a LAUGHABLE claim, and @DHSOIG agrees! oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/…
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG Now onto my very pet issue!

@DHSMcAleenan asked about who appears in court and once again screws it up badly. He says: "About 44% of non-detained removal cases end with a removal order in absentia."

McAleenan then falsely says that this was their appearance rate. It's not!
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG A removal order "in absentia" is issued when someone doesn't appear in court. But, importantly, the 44% figure (and the 85% for the expedited family docket) figure are not measures of how many PEOPLE missed court. It's a measure of how many CASES ended b/c someone missed court.
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG Imagine 10 people scheduled to appear in court but only 9 show up.

Person who missed court is ordered deported and one other case is completed. The other 8 people told to come back.

90% appearance rate (9 of 10), but 50% "in absentia" rate (1 of 2). McAleenan is citing latter!
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG With @RepHarley, who goes to FCMP and asks @DHSMcAleenan about 99% success rate. McAleenan mangles a statistic (claims that 99% was only first hearing and then is immediately corrected that it was ALL hearing), then goes back to that incorrect "they didn't leave" point earlier.
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley .@RepHarley asks McAleenan about CBP hiring. McAleenan notes that there was a net gain FY18 of agents for the first time, and says that there will also be a net gain in FY19 (I don't think he's said this before). CBP hiring has been problematic for years.
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley Now to Rep. @MarkMeadows, who once again comes back to the issue of fake families.

Once again, no one disagrees that this exists. What we disagree about is how prevalent this problem is and what the response should be.
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley @MarkMeadows .@MarkMeadows suggests he may try to force eliminating Flores and increasing ICE detention as part of the "budget caps" deal upcoming in the fall (he means debt ceiling, right?)
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley @MarkMeadows Mark Meadows says, without a hint of irony, that "we can keep kids safe" by eliminating Flores.

The Flores agreement stops DHS from locking up kids for months, or years, at a time. The American Academy of Pediatrics says detaining children hurts them.
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley @MarkMeadows Now on to Rep @DWStweets who asks about multiple "consistent, broad-based accusations from the majority of children" that lawyers interviewed about bad behaviors in Yuma. She asks @DHSMcAleenan whether he'll commit to immediately ordering an investigation. azcentral.com/story/news/pol…
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley @MarkMeadows @DWStweets A somewhat contentious exchange between Rep @DWStweets on McAleenan's repeated responses through the hearing that he is unfamiliar with specific details of cases, with her noting he does this every time he's pushed on individual cases which go against his claims.
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley @MarkMeadows @DWStweets What's also notable about Rep. @DWStweets exchange with McAleenan is that he refused to commit to a full investigation of the claims out of Yuma of abuse against kids. He basically said he'd only investigate individual claims referred to his office, not broader patterns.
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley @MarkMeadows @DWStweets And as we get close to 2:00, I do have to step away at this point and get other work done.

As with previous hearings, my impression of McAleenan is that he's a serious policy wonk (not an idealogue), but has massive (or willful) blind-spots towards his own agency's failures.
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley @MarkMeadows @DWStweets McAleenan again and again throughout the hearing acted as if every rule is being followed, as if every Trump policy was well-intentioned, as if oversight is perfect, and as if every failing is a rogue agent not indicative of anyone else.

It's just not so. It really isn't.
@DHSMcAleenan @DHSOIG @RepHarley @MarkMeadows @DWStweets Finally, sorry, still had this on in the background, McAleenan said that families were "less likely to appear in court."


As our Detaining Families study showed, families actually have a HIGHER appearance rate in court.
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