Immigration chief pledges to meet with Hispanic lawmakers after dispute

By Doug G. Ware   |   Feb. 16, 2017 at 6:51 PM
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Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Some key Hispanic lawmakers said they were kept out of an immigration meeting on Capitol Hill Thursday, an absence that Republicans say was a logistical result.

Two members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Reps. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., and Norma Torres, D-Calif., said they were asked to leave the meeting between lawmakers and the top U.S. immigration official.

Additionally, other members of the caucus said they were not allowed to attend.

"I'm pretty shaken," Gutiérrez said. "I've been here 25 years and I've never been told by the Speaker of the House that I can't attend a meeting I've requested."

The meeting was set up to address immigration with acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief Tom Homan, in light of President Donald Trump's developing policy on the subject.

Republicans, though, said absolutely no slights were intended for anyone. The meet was originally set for Tuesday but had to be rescheduled because too many legislators wanted to attend.

ICE then coordinated with House leaders to set up limited bipartisan attendance -- and those who weren't on the list were not allowed to sit in.

"Members of the CHC expressed interest in attending, and to accommodate the request, we welcomed the chair of the CHC to join on behalf of the other members," AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said. "We are confident that the CHC chair is capable of representing the views of her caucus, and this arrangement was made very clear to the CHC ahead of time."

CHC Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., who did attend the gathering, said afterward that Homan agreed to meet with the full caucus in the future.

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