Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused President Trump and acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli on Wednesday of implementing immigration policy in service of a “white supremacist ideology.”
The accusations came during a hearing of the House Oversight Committee on immigration policy.
“You and Mr. Trump don’t want anyone who looks or talks or differently than Caucasian Americans to be allowed into this country,” Wasserman Schultz began. A staffer sitting behind her was captured on video as her eyes widened in shock.
“You have demonstrated that you will pursue this heinous white supremacist ideology at all costs,” said Wasserman Schultz. Cuccinelli answered that neither he nor the President was a white supremacist.
“That’s false,” Cuccinelli said, calling Wasserman Schultz’s statements “defamatory.”
Cuccinelli had been summoned to the hearing to discuss the Trump administration’s decision to temporarily stop granting deportation deferments for illegal aliens receiving life-saving treatment in the U.S.
Representative Ayanna Pressley (D., Ohio) also entered into a heated exchange with Cuccinelli over who was responsible for the decision, himself or White House officials. Cuccinelli repeatedly asserted that he made the decision and that no White House official was involved.
Trump had considered appointing Cuccinelli secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. However, Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said the idea was a non-starter.
“It’s my understanding that the existing law would not permit him to” lead the organization, Grassley said. “I don’t know how you get around that.” Grassley was referring to current laws that govern succession rules within the federal government.
On Tuesday, a top Border Patrol official warned that illegal immigration could hit crisis levels if courts keep blocking Trump’s immigration policies.
“We will go back, mark the words, we will go back to the crisis level that we had before,” said chief of law enforcement operations for the Border Patrol Brian Hastings. “It is kind of a new norm. We’re at risk at any time.”