A House Democrat sparked fury from fellow lawmakers after she said the death of illegal immigrant children is “intentional” on the part of the Trump administration.
Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood of Illinois made the remark Wednesday at a congressional hearing during testimony from acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin Mc Aleenan on the need for an increased budget for border security.
“At this point, with five kids that have died, 5,000 separated from their families, I feel like, and the evidence is really clear, this is intentional,” the freshman Democrat said.
“It’s a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration, and it’s cruel and inhumane.”
Rep. @LaurenUnderwood: "With 5 kids that have died, 5,000 separated from their families, I feel like the evidence is really clear that this is intentional. It's intentional, and it's a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration." https://t.co/C5Doo7vn96 pic.twitter.com/WeNzCGOFVY
— The Hill (@thehill) May 22, 2019
McAleenan called her accusation “appalling.”
“Our men and women fight hard to protect people in our custody every single day,” he said.
Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the ranking member of the panel, demanded that Underwood’s comments be “taken down” because she had essentially accused McAleenan of murder, according to USA Today.
Ranking Member Mike Rogers, R-AL calling out Underwood for her remarks.
"you cannot impugn the character of the witness by stating that he intentionally murders children," he said. "That is completely inappropriate, and her words should be taken down. She was very explicit."
— Kat Burdick (@DrKatBurdick) May 24, 2019
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, resisted, saying, “the language is appropriate and that it should not be taken down,” according to Fox News.
The committee subsequently voted in support of Rogers and against Underwood and Thompson.
However, Underwood had her say on social media.
“For over a year, it’s been clear that policies at the border have harmed the physical and mental health of migrant children. I believe, at this point, failure to change these broken policies based on that knowledge is intentional and unacceptable,” she wrote.
For over a year, it’s been clear that policies at the border have harmed the physical and mental health of migrant children. I believe, at this point, failure to change these broken policies based on that knowledge is intentional and unacceptable.
— Lauren Underwood (@RepUnderwood) May 22, 2019
Underwood’s comment was later echoed by Rep. Nanette Barragán, a California Democrat, who also used the word “intentional” to describe the deaths of migrant children in U.S. custody.
“It’s a belief based on all the lies that have been out in the public,” she said.
She said that based on the deaths of five children and the separation of thousands of families, McAleenan should be ashamed.
“That is despicable to say,” she said. “You should not be proud of a record of having five children die under your watch.”
McAleenan argued during the hearing that if Congress wants different results, it should adopt policies and a budget to allow agencies charged with border security to cope with the rising number of illegal immigrants crossing the border.
“The crisis is exceeding the resources provided,” he said, according to The Hill.
“We’ve asked for resources three weeks ago … and we’ve asked for changes in authorities for the last three years that would have prevented this from happening.”
During a Friday appearance on “Fox & Friends,” former Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Tom Homan bristled at Underwood’s remark.
“It’s a disgusting comment,” he said.
“These men and women of the Border Patrol, they are fathers and mothers and sons and daughters, too. They don’t leave their love for life at the station when they start the shift. They do everything they can to protect these people, so to dishonor them in this way insulting.”