Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) walked out of a Congressional hearing Thursday after berating DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over the Trump administration's border separation policy. Gutierrez, ignoring her response, stepped out after castigating the Secretary of Homeland Security.
"Shame on us for wearing our badge of Christianity during Christmas and allow the secretary to come here a lie," Gutierrez said.
"Calling me a liar are fighting words," Nielsen said. "I'm not a liar. We've never had a policy for family separation."
GUTIERREZ: Secretary Nielsen, the majority on this committee must think you're doing a fantastic job because they've ordered this hearing so that you could come before us and look tough and remorseless, just in time for the holidays; the remorseless secretary during the holidays -- Christmas, as they like to make sure and specify.
I suspect that if you still have your job -- which seems to always be a big question -- in three weeks, we'll see if you still have the same sympathetic questions when you come back.
I want to start by praising this administration and the role that it's had. Because there's one thing that this administration has done better than any other administration in American history and that is lie.
I still remember the first day when the press secretary came out and said, "This is the largest inauguration crowd ever in the history of America." Of course, everybody laughed because there were more people at other inaugurations.
And the president's own remarks, on a world stage, the U.N. General Assembly, he said he had accomplished more as president than anyone before him. And the world laughed because the evidence was plain to see, that that just wasn't true.
But specifically in the area of homeland security, lying has become elevated to a new and astounding level of mendacity. President Trump ascended the golden escalators at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy by saying Mexico was "sending us the worst" rapists, murders.
Then he said he was required to break up migrant families because of "bad laws that the Democrats gave us." How about the one about Mexico paying for the wall? You want $5 million dollars and you want -- $5 billion and you want the American public to pay for it. Isn't Mexico supposed to pay for it? Wasn't that the campaign promise? No, that's just another lie.
And how about the ones about the massive invasion via the immigrant caravan that would ruin America? How about when Trump said, "Good people" among the Nazis and white supremacists demonstrating? That time, nobody was laughing but the evidence was plain to see and these are gigantic lies.
I remember when the CHC met with your predecessor, your boss now, the former secretary of Homeland Security. And he dropped a few whoppers himself.
The most memorable for me is when he sat -- I want everybody -- because you weren't there. When he sat with the Hispanic Congressional Caucus in the Capitol in a room full of Hispanic members of Congress, most of whose parents and grandparents were immigrants that didn't speak English when they came here.
And he said to us, and he looked us in the eyes and he said, "The reason we can't have too many poor, uneducated Latinos in America is because they will never assimilate into American culture like previous waves of immigrants," referring to the Irish, the Italians in the region.
I would not assimilate. The members of Congress, duly elected, would not assimilate. So we couldn't have more. He said that to us. It's almost as though we were invisible to him.
Secretary could have told a room full of Hispanic congressmen and women that poor, uneducated Latinos -- a lot like my mom and my dad who didn't speak a lick of English but you want to change the policy so that if you want to come to this country, you have to speak English -- would never fit and that their children could never acquire the position of members of the Congress of the United States in this democracy, a lie. Because it's happened, time and time again.
It is as if you can't see the reality of modern immigration or contributions of anyone who came from countries other than Norway and other parts of Europe. It's as if you and the Trump administration are blind. And you know what? It seems like you agree with Tucker Carlson that immigrants only bring danger and dirt and division.
But I have to say, the all-time record for lying in the face of all the evidence was a tweet you, Madam Secretary, sent out on June the 17th. And it says, "We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period."
That's your Twitter account. That's what you put out. Yet you came here today to tell us exactly is your policy of separating families and children from their families. Another lie.
I now have 45 seconds. I won't take them all. But it is repugnant to me and astonishing to me that during Christmas -- I like to call them "the holiday season" to be inclusive -- but during Christmas because the majority always wants to just call it Christmas.
That during Christmas, a time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph, thank God there wasn't a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt. Thank God that wall wasn't there. And thank God there wasn't an administration like this, or he would have too, have perished on the 28th, on the Day of Innocents, when Herod ordered the murder of every child under 2 years of age.
Maybe I haven't gone a lot to Bible School. But I know that part. Thank God. Shame on everybody that separates children and allows them to stay at the other side of the border, fearing death. Fearing hunger. Fearing sickness. Shame on us for wearing our badge of Christianity during Christmas and allow the secretary to come here and lie.
GOODLATTE: Time of the gentleman has expired. If the secretary would care to respond to any of this...
NIELSEN: Only then to say that calling me a liar are fighting words. I'm not a liar. We've never had a policy for family separation. I'm happy to walk the gentleman through it again.
A policy of family separation would mean that any family that I encountered in the interior, I would separate. It would mean that any family that I found at a port of entry, I would separate. It would mean that every single family that I found illegally crossing, we would separate. We did none of those. What we did do is uphold the laws that Congress has passed, and we prosecuted those who choose to come here illegally.
As far as not being compassionate, let me just tell you what I have done, and of course, he couldn't be bothered to stay, so I'm happy to tell the rest of the committee. What we have done is we have worked extensively with the Northern Triangle countries to find ways to help vulnerable populations as soon in their journey as possible. The current system puts them at the hands of those who prey on them and who abuse them. So we've worked extensively to increase asylum capacity to help them as soon as possible.
We have worked on child exploitation, including very unfortunate new crimes which are live distance abuse, where somebody goes online and directs an abuser on how to abuse a child as they watch. That is a crime that DHS investigates and prosecutes.
We have worked against traffickers. We have the first anti-smuggling, anti-trafficking strategy this January. We do investigations. We help survivors.
I take personal offense on behalf of the 240,000 men and women of the Department of Homeland Security. Thank you, sir.