Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Calif.) appeared stunned when former ICE Director Thomas Homan hit back hard on the legality of family separations at the border.
The fiery exchange occurred during testimony by Homan before the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on child separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ocasio-Cortez cited a memo signed by Homan that recommended several policy solutions to the increase of migrant crossings at the border that included asylum claims.
“So you’re the author of the family separation policy?” she asked.
“I am not the author of this memo,” he fired back. Clarifying that he signed the memo but that it was a “zero tolerance memo.”
Ocasio-Cortez pressed him on whether he recommended the family separation policy to former DHS Secretary Nielsen, but he countered that he gave numerous recommendations on how to “secure the border and save lives.”
“The recommendation, of the many that you recommended,” Ocasio-Cortez asked, “you recommended family separation.”
“I recommended zero tolerance,” he clarified.
“Which includes family separation,” she added.
“The same as it is with every U.S. citizen parent that gets arrested with a child,” Homan responded.
Ocasio-Cortez was silent for a few seconds before continuing.
“Zero tolerance was interpreted,” she said, “as the policy that separated children from their…”
“If I get arrested for DUI and I have a young child in the car, I’m gonna be separated,” interrupted Homan. “When I was a police officer in New York and I arrested a father for domestic violence, I separated that father from his home.”
“Mr. Homan with all due respect, legal asylees are not charged with any crime,” Ocasio-Cortez replied.
Homan countered by saying that being present in the U.S. without documentation is illegal.
“Seeing asylum is legal,” Ocasio-Cortez responded.
“If you want to seek asylum, go to a port of entry, do it the legal way,” Homan fired back. “The attorney general of the United States made that clear.”
“OK,” Ocasio-Cortez responded, and moved on.