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The House Oversight Committee grilled acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan yesterday about the current strategic incompetence and mistreatment of migrants at the border. McAleenan insisted the Border Patrol was doing the very best it could to deal with increased numbers of border crossers, but parroted the administration line that overcrowding in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities were simply a result of Congress's failure to fund Donald Trump's beautiful dream of detaining all asylum-seekers and their families forever. For some reason, Democrats on the committee weren't buying it!

Americans' frustrations with the cruelty at the border were channeled by Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), who reminded McAleenan what moral outrage looks like.

Here's the start of the exchange. Cummings starts off measured, but as he discusses a federal judge's finding that DHS "did a better job of tracking immigrants' personal property than their children" during last year's family separation crisis, he gets more and more pissed off, wondering why the entire administration seems to suffer from a "empathy deficit."

I'm talking about human beings. I'm not talking about people that come from, as the president said, s.h.-holes. These are human beings. Human beings. Just trying to live a better life.

As the questioning continued, Cummings presented the facts: DHS -- and McAleenan, as then-head of CBP -- had lied when it said it kept careful records of all the children taken from their parents. The DHS inspector general documented there was no such database, and the judge in the case repeatedly excoriated the administration for not keeping track of the children.

Eventually, Cummings built to a crescendo of righteous anger over McAleenan's bland assurances that since most of the separated children were eventually reunited with their parents, everything worked out just fine.

"And therefore, I guess — you feel like you're doing a great job right?" Cummings asked. McAleenan started replying that golly, DHS is "doing our level best," but Cummings had had enough:


Why are we using a Washington Examiner vid? It has the right part of the hearing. Otherwise, fuck 'em. youtu.be

What does that mean? What does that mean? When a child is sitting in their own feces, can't take a shower? Come on man. What's that about? None of us would have our children in that position. They are human beings!

I get tired of folks saying, "Oh they're just beating up on the Border Patrol. Oh, they're just beating up on Homeland Security." What I'm saying is I want to concentrate on these children, and I want to make sure that they're okay. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It's not the deed you do to a child. It's the memory. It's the memory [...]

We are the United States of America! We are the greatest country in the world. We are the greatest country in the world. We are the ones that can go anywhere in the world and save people, make sure they have diapers, make sure they have toothbrushes, make sure they're not laying around defecating in some silver paper.

Come on. We're better than that. And I don't want us to lose sight of that. When we are dancing with the angels, these children will be dealing with the issues that have been presented to them. How do you say to a two-year-old, "Your mother, we can't find your mother, but we can find her keys"?

McAleenan generously offered to take Cummings on a guided tour of CBP facilities, and patiently explained to him, "there's no one defecating in a Mylar blanket," which is certainly a matter of great relief. To be scrupulously accurate, the lawyers who interviewed kids being held at the CBP station in Clint, Texas, did see at least one toddler with no diaper, his pants full of shit. But his shit-filled pants may have been between him and any Mylar blanket he may have been sitting on. All is well.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wanted to know whether McAleenan had discussed a return to family separation, citing the attorneys' interviews with kids who had been taken from their parents or other adult family members at the border. Well, no, said McAleenan, he just plain won't talk about his private conversations with the "president," but there's definitely no family separation policy. We've heard that one before, haven't we?

AOC Confronts DHS Head Kevin McAleenan on Facebook 'Rape Memes' youtu.be

Ocasio-Cortez also asked McAleenan about Donald Trump's suggestion, back in the ancient history of April 2019, that the Border Patrol should just turn back all asylum seekers, and if there was any legal trouble, he'd simply pardon anyone who broke the law. Did Trump ever dangle a pardon to McAleenan in exchange for cutting off all asylum? McAleenan wouldn't be tricked into a direct answer; instead, he emphatically said, "I've never been asked to do anything unlawful by the president or anyone else, nor would I." So there you go: no direct orders to break the law, because Donald Trump runs on hints and innuendo, see?

As for that secret Facebook group full of current and retired CBP employees making racist jokes, mocking dead migrant kids, and posting graphic cartoons about Ocasio-Cortez getting raped, ha-ha, McAleenan said an investigation was underway and that agents had been put "on administrative duties." But he didn't say for certain whether the agents who posted the funny rape cartoons were still working for CBP, just that "I don't know which [people] correspond to which posts, and we've issued cease and desist orders to dozen more." But nah, he said, there's no culture of dehumanization in CBP, just some bad apples.

Bad apples like the 10,000 members of the Facebook group, and that's all. OK, also maybe the Border Patrol agent being investigated for groping a 15-year-old in front of other detainees, and the agent on trial for running over a migrant with a truck. And also too, possibly, the agent being investigated for sexually harassing the mother of a migrant boy in detention at Clint -- the agent got on video chat with the mom and showed himself masturbating. That incident only made it to the Washington Post yesterday, though, so it doesn't appear to have been mentioned at the hearing. Very isolated incident by a few bad apples in a rotten barrel, and not part of any longstanding pattern of racism and abuse going back decades, heavens no.

Everything is very legal and very cool, and McAleenan would like even more money for immigration jails now, please, and if Congress could please end asylum altogether now, that would also be greatly appreciated.

[Politico / Yahoo News / Bloomberg / WaPo / Intercept]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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