Ranking member of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is demanding answers over Democrats’ mysterious trips to Mexico, including details into the alleged “coaching” of migrants to exploit United States immigration law, a letter from the Republican exclusively obtained by Fox News says.
The letter, addressed to committee chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), inquires about “at least two committee staff trips into Mexico in August — one of which required Border Patrol agents to provide a special escort back into the U.S.,” Fox reports. Republicans were not informed of the trips, according to Rep. Jordan.
“Although you have the authority to direct Committee staff to travel internationally on official committee business, you have not explained why you authorized this travel into Mexico or what you sought to learn through these trips,” the Ohio Republican wrote.
Democrats are seeking “to delegitimize the administration’s border security efforts and vilify the men and women who protect our border,” Jordan accused, noting that the trips “could continue to result in misleading information about the administration’s border security efforts.”
The letter specifically asks about Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) and alleged “coaching” of migrants. According to a report from The Washington Examiner in July, Escobar was “sending staff to Mexico’s northern border town of Ciudad Juárez to find migrants returned from El Paso, Texas, under the ‘remain in Mexico’ policy, then coaching them to pretend they cannot speak Spanish to exploit a loophole letting them to return to the U.S.”
“What we believe is happening is Veronica Escobar’s office is going … to basically second-guess and obstruct work already done by the Border Patrol,” one senior union official source told the Examiner.
As noted by Fox, Escobar was in attendance during one of the secretive trips on August 21.
Three days after the report was published, Escobar called the piece a “fabricated” “hit piece” that is “fueled by xenophobia and misinformation.”
“The [Washington Examiner] has published a fabricated story resulting in death threats against me and my staff,” she claimed via Twitter on July 8. “This hit piece is fueled by xenophobia and misinformation. But guess what, guys? These attacks won’t deter me doing my job, upholding my oath, and pushing for accountability.”
The @dcexaminer has published a fabricated story resulting in death threats against me and my staff.
This hit piece is fueled by xenophobia and misinformation. But guess what, guys? These attacks won’t deter me doing my job, upholding my oath, and pushing for accountability.
— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) July 8, 2019
Jordan asked Democrats about the purpose of the visit, “which individuals and groups they interacted with, why Escobar’s office was invited, and what ‘coaching’ on immigration laws, if any, was given to migrants,” Fox said of the letter.
At the end of last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) barred Democratic staff from visiting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, reported Fox. According to the DHS, Democrats were “rude” to officers, missed scheduled facility meetings, and stayed longer in areas than permitted.
“Due to the operational burden placed on the field by their refusal to comply with instruction during last week’s STAFFDEL [staff delegation visit], CBP pulled the trip in which more site visits were to take place at CBP and ICE facilities this week,” a senior DHS official told the outlet via email. “DHS communicated to the committee that due to their conduct, CBP could not support visits from the committee this week.”
Cummings claimed the action from Homeland Security was retaliatory against Democrats for allegedly “reveal[ing] potentially serious ongoing problems with the treatment of children and adults in DHS custody,” a letter from the committee chairman said.