WASHINGTON, D.C. â€” California Congressman Juan Vargas, District 51, released a statement Thursday, February 16, claiming he and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were barred from a meeting with Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Thomas D. Homan.
â€œToday my colleagues in the Hispanic Caucus and I were excluded from a meeting with officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and that is completely unacceptable,â€ said Vargas. â€œThe Congressional Hispanic Caucus requested a meeting with the Acting Director of ICE because our constituents are living in fear. By being excluded from todayâ€™s meeting, we were unable to get clear information regarding the immigration policies that are directly impacting our communities. All we want are answers.â€
According to Jennifer Elzea, Office of Public Affairs for ICE, no one was barred from the meeting.
Initially, six members of Congress requested a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan to get information about the ongoing deportation operation conducted by ICE.
The day before the scheduled meeting, other members indicated they wanted to be present. The number had grown to over twenty, which wasÂ more people than could be accommodated in Speaker Ryanâ€™s office, explained Elzea. The meeting was rescheduled for the original six members. The meeting was not scheduled until after the ICE operation was completed.
Director Homan said he is interested in meeting with other members of Congress as time permits, according to his office. He is open to dialogue and said he wants his department to be transparent.
ICE Office of Public Affairs also released a statement from Thursday’s meeting:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan addressed a bipartisan group of members of the House of Representatives at a meeting hosted by the office of Speaker Paul Ryan this afternoon regarding ICEâ€™s recent successful enforcement operations. The meeting focused on the agencyâ€™s targeted enforcement efforts conducted across the nation last week.
Mr. Homan emphasized that ICE does not conduct arrests indiscriminately and does not establish checkpoints; rather, the agencyâ€™s deportation officers target pre-identified individuals for arrest at specific locations based on law enforcement leads.
He noted that those arrested in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York City were individuals who posed a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nationâ€™s immigration system.
He further stated that officers frequently encounter additional individuals in the pursuit of their targets. When officers determine other individuals are in the United States in violation of the federal immigration laws, the officers make arrests. Every arrest is made on a case-by-case basis.
Mr. Homan highlighted the excellent work of all the men and women who participated and reinforced that all the agencyâ€™s enforcement activities are conducted with professionalism and respect. ICE officers are committed to enforcing the law as currently written and will continue to do so.