The Trump administration is again being accused of "ducking accountability" after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director Thomas Homan abruptly backed out of a planned meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) hours before it was set to happen on Tuesday.
Congressional Democrats had requested the meeting amid immigration raids in several states that resulted in hundreds of arrests last week and over the weekend. "These raids have struck fear in the hearts of the immigrant community as many fear that President [Donald] Trump's promised 'deportation force' is now in full-swing," they wrote in a letter sent Friday.
According to The Hill:
An ICE representative speaking on background said the CHC added attendants to the meeting last minute, forcing the agency to reschedule to comply with House rules.
CHC staff said a larger, bipartisan meeting was not a reasonable replacement for the canceled sit-down because it would shield Homan from directly facing members who represent the constituency most affected by ICE raids.
"It's more of the same from the Trump administration," said an aide.
At a press conference later Tuesday, CHC chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham acknowledged that the number of people seeking to attend the meeting had indeed grown—in response to widespread lack of clarity around the raids. She additionally charged that the order to cancel Tuesday's meeting came from higher up in the Trump administration.
Furthermore, according to Politico reporter Heather Caygle on Twitter:
CHC Chair Lujan Grisham tells me ICE cancelled meeting today for "political cover." Said they weren't rdy to answer qs on deportations
— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) February 14, 2017
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), one of those who originally requested the meeting, expressed similar concern, telling the Huffington Post in an email that the cancellation was another indication that "the Trump administration does not seem to believe in transparency or sharing information with members of Congress."
"The Trump people are clearly ducking accountability and oversight," he added. "This is unacceptable as rumors and fear circulate within cities and towns across America and ICE is too busy to meet with the CHC or key Democratic leaders? That just doesn't fly."
Watch the caucus' full press conference below: