Facts warred with foggy perceptions during a Senate hearing on immigration this week, leaving one Democrat complaining, “I’m confused.”
Matthew Albence, executive associate director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testified Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
After Albence sought to explain to the senators that federal detention centers for children of illegal immigrants were not as horrible as critics insist, Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono decided to press the point — homing in on the illegal immigrant holding facilities known as family residential centers.
“Would you send your child to FRC?” the Democrat asked.
Albence tried to make it clear that the machinery of government kicked in once the border was crossed illegally.
“Again, I think we’re missing the point. These individuals are there because they have broken a law. There has to be a process,” he said.
Hirono then tried to lay immigration issues at the door of President Donald Trump.
“They have broken a law only as deemed so by the president,” she said.
Albence was ready with a reply.
“No, ma’am. They’re there for violation of Title 8 of the immigration, of the U.S. and Nationality Act. … That’s illegal entry. It’s both a criminal and civil violation,” Albence retorted. “They are in those FRCs pending the outcome of that civil immigration process. They have broken the law.”
Hirono now appeared lost.
“Well, these are mainly — my understanding is that under zero-tolerance, these are no longer civil proceedings, but in fact were criminal proceedings,” she said. Albence tried to explain how things really worked on the border and who did what.
“They were criminal proceedings when the Border Patrol prosecuted them. But at the conclusion of that process, once the individual came into ICE custody, they would go through administrative proceedings,” he said.
At that point, Hirono admitted, “I’m confused.”
But Albence persisted in explaining the issue.
“The criminal proceeding is the individual being prosecuted for the criminal violation of improper entry,” Albence explained.
As one former ICE official noted on “Fox and Friends,” the law is very clear, Fox News reported.
“When you cross the border (illegally)… it is a misdemeanor,” former acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security John Torres told “Fox & Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt .
During Tuesday’s hearing, Sen. John Cornyn asked Albence what would happen if the Democrats got their way and abolished ICE, according to The Washington Post.
“You cannot have strong border security with a void in the interior,” Albence told the Texas Republican.
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