During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on immigrant family separations Tuesday, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) was left “confused” after Matthew Albence, Executive Associate Director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), explained how immigrants break the law if they cross the border illegally.
Over 700 little children remain separated from their families. Thousands will be traumatized for life. At 10:00 a.m. EST, @JudiciaryDems are demanding answers at the FIRST oversight hearing on family separation. Watch live at https://t.co/MHn9G02Dbg #FamiliesBelongTogether
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) July 31, 2018
“Mr. Albence, would you send your children to FRCs,” Hirono asked.
“Again, I think we’re missing the point. These individuals are there because they have broken a law. There has to be a process,” Albence replied.
“They have broken a law but only as deemed so by the president with his —,” Hirono started to rebut.
“No ma’am. They are there for violation of Title 8 of the U.S. Nationality Act. Okay. U.S.C. 1325,” Albence interjected. “That’s illegal entry it is both a criminal and civil violation. They are in those FRCs pending the outcome of that civil immigration process. They have broken the law.”
“Well, these are, mainly, my understanding is that under zero-tolerance, these are no longer civil proceedings, but in fact were criminal proceedings,” Hirono said.
“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.”
“I’m confused,” Hirono replied after a moment’s hesitation.
Watch the video below:
“The criminal proceeding is the individual being prosecuted for the criminal violation of improper entry,” Albence explained.
ICE and its existence has been a topic of debate in the aftermath of the zero-tolerance at the border.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) recently joined a growing number of Democrats who say they should get rid the agency when they take back control of the House and the Senate after the midterms.
“I think we should get rid of ICE,” she said. “We should separate out two missions and do the anti-terrorism mission, the national security mission, and then on the other side, make sure you’re doing — looking at immigration as a humanitarian issue. These are civil issues.”