Following an allegation that members of one Democratic congresswoman’s staff were coaching migrants on how to game the rules at the border, House Republicans want to know why Democrats sent House Oversight Committee members on unexplained trips to Mexico.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the panel, made the request in a letter to Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Fox News reported.
Jordan said Republicans on the panel were not informed about the purpose for the series of trips and asked for specifics, including who staff members met with on the trips.
“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,” Jordan wrote.
Democrats want “to delegitimize the administration’s border security efforts and vilify the men and women who protect our border,” Jordan said in the letter.
Because of that, he wrote, Republicans think the taxpayer-funded trips “could continue to result in misleading information about the administration’s border security efforts.”
The presence of Democratic Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas was a lightning rod for Jordan’s concerns.
Escobar, who is not a member of the Oversight Committee, was part of an Aug. 21 committee staff trip to Tijuana.
The Democratic congresswoman was involved in controversy this summer when the Washington Examiner reported that staff in her office were coaching migrants who had been apprehended at the border and returned to Mexico.
The report said migrants were urged to lie and say they did not speak Spanish so that they could enter the U.S. through a loophole in immigration law.
Escobar later claimed in a tweet that the story was “fabricated.”
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
Tensions between House Democrats and border security officials have peaked recently, resulting in the Department of Homeland Security barring Oversight Committee staff from visiting Customs and Border Protection facilities along the border, alleging that the staffers were “disruptive,” “rude,” and “interfered with operations” during previous visits, Fox News reported.
Jordan vented about that conduct in a letter to Cummings.
“DHS asked the Committee to abide by the instructions of DHS personnel on the ground and to respect the significant operational interests of the border facilities visited,” Jordan wrote. “Unfortunately, at your apparent direction, Democrats refused to listen to law-enforcement instructions and made demands at the facilities ‘against the express written notice DHS had provided earlier.’”