According to a report from The Washington Times, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement briefer who was sent to the closed-door negotiations on border security spending on Wednesday was never allowed into the meeting.
“ICE was disappointed not to be able to address the conference committee directly,” the administration source said, according to The Washington Times.
Homeland security negotiators and border experts reportedly discussed plans for how much money the government would allow for border security.
According to The Washington Times, the ICE briefer had prepared information that would have informed the panel that the limits they are considering for immigrant detention beds, supported by Democrats, would mean that 30,000 current detainees would be released back onto the streets.
ICE said that number includes thousands of migrants with criminal records who are currently being held by the United States government.
While the ICE briefer wasn’t allowed to attend the meeting, he was permitted to introduce documents for the consideration of the negotiator, which defended President Donald Trump’s call for 52,000 detention beds.
While much of the media attention on border security has focused on President Donald Trump’s request for a border wall, ICE insists the issue of detention centers is critical.
Democrats’ plan would cut ICE’s available detention facilities down to about 35,520 beds, and even Senate Republicans have supported a proposal that would give the customs enforcement agency only 40,520 beds, according to The Washington Times.
“Limiting the number of ICE detention beds is a way of controlling the Trump administration’s cruel immigration policies,” one Democratic aide tracking the deal-making said, according to The Washington Times “If history is a guide, there has to be some compromise on both beds and border infrastructure and we are working to ensure there is a workable glide path downward on beds.”
With these cuts, “up to 30,000 releases of criminals, illegal aliens with criminal charges and recent border crossers” would not be held, ICE said, according to The Washington Times.
In a secret briefing on Wednesday, Border Patrol officials spoke to lawmakers about what’s necessary to secure the border.
“That was really the focus of the meeting, rather than ICE’s role. We’ll have funding in the package for ICE. The pushback that we’ve been getting is on the border barrier funding,” North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven said, according to The Washington Times.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Republican Senator Richard Shelby also justified ICE’s conspicuous absence from the meeting, saying everyone they needed to hear from was there.
“I guess you look back in retrospect, say we could have brought so and so in. I thought the meeting yesterday was overall very good — told us some things that we needed from the experts — not something we politically thought of,” Shelby said.
ICE has been under attack from numerous Democratic politicians who say the agency should be eliminated and defunded.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said Thursday at a rally in Washington that ICE “does not deserve a dime.”
Sen. Lindsay Graham noted during the government shutdown in January that it’s difficult to negotiate with a group who believes that believes ICE should be done away with.
“We’re having to negotiate with people who want to abolish ICE, not support ICE,” the South Carolina Republican said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
.@LindseyGrahamSC on the government shutdown battle: “I do want open the government, but the goal is not to open the government. The goal is to fix a broken immigration system.” pic.twitter.com/XNbJtNsghQ
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 6, 2019
“We’re having to negotiate with people who see border patrol agents gassing children, rather than defending our borders as professional law enforcement officers.”