At Hearing, Warren Pushes for Full, Public Transparency in the Investigation into Disturbing Treatment of Haitian Migrants at the Border
Warren Called on CBP Commissioner Nominee to Make Findings Public, Ensure All Migrants are Treated with Dignity and Humanity
Washington, DC – At today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) questioned Chief Chris Magnus, the nominee to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on the need for transparency in the investigation into the treatment of Haitian migrants at the Texas border.
When asked if he will make it a top priority to ensure that all CBP personnel treat migrants and asylum-seekers with dignity and with proper respect for all of their legal rights, including the legal right to seek asylum, Chief Magnus told Senator Warren that “we have asylum obligations as a nation” and that “(w)e can never bypass the criticality of treating people humanely.”
Senator Warren also asked Chief Magnus, the City of Tuscon’s police chief, if he will prioritize working with other federal agencies to ensure accurate and complete data transparency regarding COVID-19 in CBP facilities and if he will keep Congress informed of his findings. In response, Chief Magnus affirmed that it is critical to be transparent with data as it relates to COVID-19, and he committed to keeping Congress informed about that subject.
Senator Warren continues her efforts to protect the rights and wellbeing of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, migrants, and asylum seekers:
- Earlier this month, Warren joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) in criticizing the mistreatment of Haitian migrants at border
- Last month, Senator Warren called out the inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants and called on the administration to focus on humanitarian efforts.
- In June 2021, Senator Warren led a letter DHS and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement expressing concern over reports that the agencies were re-detaining individuals who had previously been detained and released due to COVID-19
- In May 2021, Senator Warren supported the Biden administration’s announcement that it is designating Haitians in the United States for TPS for 18 months.
- In March 2021, Senator Warren reintroduced the COVID-19 in Immigration Detention Data Transparency Act to ensure accurate data regarding COVID-19 testing, vaccination, and safety protocols in immigration detention facilities.
- In March 2021, Senator Warren joined Senator Mazie Hirono’s (D-Hawaii) amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, regarding TPS holders being denied green cards.
- In September 2020, Senator Warren called out the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to end TPS for over 300,000 immigrants.
- In April 2020, Senator Warren joined Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and 36 colleagues urging the Trump administration to automatically extend work authorizations for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and TPS recipients and other impacted immigrants.
- In May 2018, Senator Warren joined Senator Markey in a letter to the Trump administration questioning the termination of TPS for Haitians.
- In November 2017, Senator Warren released a statement calling out the Trump administration's announcement that it planned to end TPS for Haitians in 2019.
Transcript: Senate Finance Hearing to Consider the
Nomination of Chris Magnus, of Arizona, to be Commissioner of U.S. Customs and
Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Senate Finance Committee
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Senator Elizabeth Warren: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Chief Magnus, for being here today. It’s good to be able to speak with you again.
I am very encouraged by your experience in law enforcement and your extensive experience with immigration issues. But I think anyone filling the post of CBP Commissioner is going to have a very challenging job.
One recent and very high-profile example of these challenges has been the treatment of Haitian immigrants in Del Rio, Texas.
Border Patrol agents, who are CBP personnel, engaged in cruel and disturbing behavior against these migrants. Inhumane treatment of migrants and asylum-seekers is unacceptable in our nation. I know DHS has opened an investigation into these interactions.
So here’s the commitment I’d like from you. Will you push for transparency in that investigation and for public release of all your findings?
Chief Magnus: Senator, thank you for the question and I think you will find that I have a long history of transparency and sharing things with the public whatever the outcome may be because I think this is how you sustain and build trust.
I agree. The images that we saw were troubling. I am grateful that the secretary opened an investigation. I think it's very important that we be fair and allow the investigation to move in whatever direction it does as facts are gathered. So I’m not going to prejudge, but I think we can safely say that examining tactics and training is certainly appropriate. And after a significant incident, it's something that I have a long history of working towards.
Senator Warren: Well, I very much appreciate that history. That's why I'm here today. But I’m asking, actually, for a commitment. And that is that you will push for transparency in this investigation and for the public release of all the findings.
Chief Magnus: Senator, I certainly commit that I will push for that.
Senator Warren: Good. That's what I wanted to hear. Now I know that in response to the negative publicity about what happened at Del Rio, there was a temporary end to the Border Patrol’s use of horseback units in the area. But I see this as just a symptom of a broader problem in recent years.
Will you make it a top priority to ensure that all CBP personnel treat migrants and asylum-seekers with the dignity as human beings that they deserve, and with proper respect for all of their legal rights, including the legal right to seek asylum?
Chief Magnus: Senator, thank you for that question and as I’ve spoken to, I believe that we have asylum obligations as a nation. And therefore, even as we seek, you know, efficiency and to be as effective as possible in working with individuals who seek asylum. We can never bypass the criticality of treating people humanely. These are fellow human beings and they have to be treated humanely.
Senator Warren: Good. I appreciate that. And I-- we will work together on that because I’m going to hold you to that.
Chief Magnus: Thank you, senator.
Senator Warren: Another concern I have is about the effects of the COVID pandemic at immigration detention facilities. As you know, I’ve been pushing for greater transparency about COVID cases in these facilities, and Congressman Castro and I introduced a bill to help ensure accurate and complete data collection regarding COVID testing, vaccination, and safety protocols at CBP facilities and other immigration detention facilities.
Also, last month, the DHS Inspector General released a report that found that CBP does not conduct COVID testing for migrants who enter its custody. The Inspector General recommended that DHS reassess its COVID response framework, and DHS agreed with this recommendation.
With that in mind, will you prioritize working with other federal agencies to ensure accurate and complete data transparency regarding COVID-19 in CBP facilities?
Chief Magnus: Senator, thank you for the question. And you know, without-- without good data collection, I think we're really not in a great position, right. So I support data collection. I support being transparent with that data, particularly as it relates to COVID. I think this is critical.
Senator Warren: Good. And will you commit to keeping Congress informed about your findings?
Chief Magnus: Senator, I absolutely will.
Senator Warren: Good. The CBP Commissioner has an obligation to ensure the health and wellbeing of individuals in its care and custody. Congress and the public have a right to know what is happening. So I appreciate your commitment to making that a priority.
Thank you. And thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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