Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar told Newsmax TV on Friday that at least one House committee, and possibly two, might hold hearings on the federal government's dumping of suspected illegal immigrants in his state.
Although U.S. customs officials appear to be abandoning
the tactic, a mass drop of migrants caught in Texas at bus stops in Arizona has aggravated tensions over border enforcement between Gosar's state and the Obama administration.
Gosar, a Republican, told "America's Forum" hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman that his request for congressional probes into the releases is gaining support.
"It appears that [the House] Judiciary [Committee] is very interested in bringing this forward," he said.
Gosar, who serves on the House Oversight Committee, said he also approached that panel's chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, "who understands and has been looking at trying to get a hearing."
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Immigration has become a touchy subject in the House, as Republicans in the majority address how to secure the southern U.S. border without alienating Hispanic voters. But Gosar is hopeful party leaders will back the request for hearings.
"I believe they absolutely have to," he said.
About 400 people held in Texas on suspicion of entering the United States illegally were flown to Arizona over the Memorial Day weekend. Next, they were dropped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at bus stations in Tucson and in Phoenix, and ordered to report within 15 days to the nearest ICE office for further processing.
The releases, meant to ease overcrowding at detention facilities in southern Texas, have caused an uproar in Arizona. Officeholders from Gov. Jan Brewer to Sen. John McCain have expressed outrage over the seemingly improvised release policy, and are demanding answers from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Gosar said he wants the House Judiciary Committee involved because whoever approved and carried out the releases violated federal law.
He read aloud from a section of U.S. code that details criminal penalties for unauthorized transport of illegal immigrants, and said Homeland Security officials have so far not managed to come up with a legal justification for the releases.
Gosar also said releasing unprocessed migrants, including children who crossed the border without their parents, amounts to a potential health and humanitarian crisis.
"They have very little water. They're in a country that they do not know anything about. They're just being dumped," he said, calling the policy "inhumane."
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