Congressman Gomez Requests FBI Investigation Into Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
Los Angeles, November 13, 2020
Los Angeles – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) requesting an investigation into former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen for perjury to Congress. A new report released by the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) indicates that Secretary Nielsen lied to the House Judiciary Committee in December 2018 about whether she manufactured capacity issues at the U.S.-Mexico border to unlawfully turn away asylum seekers.
“If the rule of law is to have any meaning, then we must make it clear that it applies to everyone,” said Congressman Gomez. “Secretary Nielsen manufactured a capacity crisis at the border and then lied to Congress without remorse. Nielsen must be held accountable for her conduct, and that is why I am calling on FBI Director Wray to investigate.”
In December 2018, Congressman Gomez traveled to the Otay Mesa port of entry to investigate reports that the Trump administration was illegally rejecting asylum seekers at official ports of entry. While at the border, Rep. Gomez observed as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents refused to process asylum claims due to so-called capacity issues. He was repeatedly denied entry to the processing facility to verify CBP reports.
Under current U.S. law, those arriving at the border have the right to request asylum without being criminalized or separated from their children. In December 2018, when asked by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Nadler if she was doing anything to intentionally reduce processing capacity for asylum seekers at legal ports of entry, Secretary Nielsen answered – while under oath – that she was not.
A new DHS OIG report found that CBP took “deliberate steps” in 2018 to limit the daily processing of asylum seekers processed at ports of entry along the Southern Border, including stopping the processing of “virtually all” undocumented immigrants and “[turning] away asylum seekers who had already stepped into the United States, telling them to return to Mexico.
The full text of the letter is below and a PDF can be found here.
Dear Director Wray:
I write to request an investigation to determine whether former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen perjured herself in sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on December 20, 2018.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a new report entitled “CBP Has Taken Steps to Limit Processing of Undocumented Aliens at Ports of Entry1.” The report reveals that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) took “deliberate steps” in 2018 to limit the daily processing of asylum seekers processed at ports of entry along the Southern Border, including stopping the processing of “virtually all” undocumented immigrants and “[turning] away asylum seekers who had already stepped into the United States, telling them to return to Mexico.
The OIG report appears to contradict Secretary Nielsen’s sworn testimony before Congress. On December 20, 2018, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler asked then-Secretary Nielsen a series of question about the role of CBP in limiting the processing times at Southwest Border land ports of entry.
The exchange was as follows:
CHAIRMAN NADLER: Are media reports correct that CBP has recently implemented so-called "port hardening” where CBP is actually reducing its processing capacity at the ports?
NIELSEN: Port hardening is actually something very different than queuing. The queuing is based on all the missions we have to do at the border.
CHAIRMAN NADLER: Are you doing anything that would reduce your capacity to process X number of people at the ports?
NIELSEN: I'm not sure what the question means. No, sir, we're trying to execute all of our missions at the ports of entry.
CHAIRMAN NADLER: Are you doing anything that slows down, that reduces the number of people who can be processed at the ports on a daily or weekly basis?
NELSEN: We are meeting all of our missions. In the amount of what we have to do between national security, between narcotics, between economic security, and those without paperwork, at certain ports, we do not have capacity to do all of that at the same time. So that is why the queuing occurs. We take them as they come to meet our requirements.
CHAIRMAN NADLER: I understand all that. My question is: Are you doing anything, that you didn't used to do, that is reducing your capacity to process people at the ports?
NIELSEN: No...no...we're doing what we need to do to execute our missions.
In light of the conflicting facts, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) should immediately investigate whether former Secretary Nielsen’s statements violate 18 U.S. Code § 1621, 18 U.S.C § 1001, or any other relevant federal statutes that prohibit perjury and false statements to Congress.