Democratic Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono received a quick lesson on U.S. immigration law from ICE official Matthew Albence during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
“Would you send your child to [the Family Residential Center]?” Hirono asked.
Albence appeared to be losing his patience with the senator’s line of questioning and perceived lack of understanding of the issue, saying, “Again, I think we’re missing the point. These individuals are there because they have broken a law. There has to be a process.”
The senator, not liking where Albence’s answer was leading, interjected: “They have broken a law only as deemed so by the president,” she said.
“No, ma’am. They’re there for violation of Title 8 of the immigration of the U.S. and Nationality Act. OK? They’re 8 USC 1325 — that’s illegal entry — is both a criminal and civil violation,” Albence retorted. “They are in those FRCs pending the outcome of that civil immigration process. They have broken the law,” he concluded.
Hirono, now visibly both flustered and frustrated, tried to draw a distinction between civil and criminal proceedings, but was again quickly shot down by the ICE representative.
“There were criminal proceedings when the border patrol prosecuted them, but at the conclusion of that process, once the individual came into ICE custody, they would go through administrative proceedings,” Albence told the Senator.
Albence’s answer appeared to be too much for the Senator to handle, as she responded by simply saying, “I’m confused.”