Iowa Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley voted to confirm Chad Wolf as the Department of Homeland Secretary undersecretary.
It’s a move that propelled Wolf, a man who suggested immigrant children be separated from their families at the country’s southern border, to the acting head of the third-largest department of the United States government.
Not only was the process of nominating Wolf nontraditional — the Senate will not get the chance to vet Wolf nor schedule a committee or confirmation hearing since he will only be considered the “acting” chief of DHS following his appointment as undersecretary — Wolf also lied to Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen when she asked about his involvement in the mistreatment of children at the border during a Senate hearing earlier this year.
Rosen asked Wolf whether he helped develop the family separation policy former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in 2018. He answered: “No ma’am.”
According to emails obtained by NBC, Wolf was in fact the person who suggested the Trump Administration should “announce that DHS is considering separating family units, placing adults in detention and placing minors under the age of 18 in custody of HHS as unaccompanied alien children.”
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, stating in addition to Wolf’s ties with the family separation policy, he has also helped implement the “Muslim ban” and the national emergency declaration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Despite testifying he was not involved in the family separation policy, Mr. Wolf reportedly suggested the policy in a memo he sent to then Attorney General Sessions,” Schumer said. “He’s ashamed to admit it. He knows it’s wrong, but he did it anyway. That man does not deserve to be an undersecretary at DHS.”
Rosen also took to the Senate floor, saying she previously placed a hold on Wolf’s nomination to be undersecretary as a result of the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the border. Between July 2017 and June 2018, at least 2,800 migrant children were separated from their parents and held in DHS custody at the border, she said.
“We don’t know the extent of the damage. Just last week, reports identified 1,500 more children who were separated from their parents during that time,” Rosen said. “We do, however, know from emails that Chad Wolf played a leading role in developing, suggesting and implementing this inhumane policy.”
Ernst has been critical of the border facilities in the past.
In July, she said the crisis at the southern border “is real.”
“Facilities are over capacity, the backlogs in asylum processing are skyrocketing, and our border patrol agents — who serve tirelessly 24/7 — are being forced to forgo their enforcement duties due to the mass influx of migrants coming to our doorstep,” Ernst said.
Meanwhile, Grassley has called for the repeal of the Flores settlement, which states DHS can’t keep children in custody and thereby forces DHS to separate children from their families.
“We can, and should, repeal the Flores settlement so that unauthorized immigrant families can be kept together pending the outcome of any proceedings,” Grassley said. “This would ensure the integrity of the family unit, and I’d like to point out that my amendment in February would have done just that.”
Both senators, however, voted for Wolf today.
by Paige Godden