WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Sen. John McCain ridiculed the top U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials at a hearing Wednesday, with McCain blasting rules preventing lawmakers from taking pictures or talking to staff and detainees at border facilities.
“You have over-stepped your responsibilities and your authority, sir,” McCain told U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. “And I want those instructions revoked as far as members of Congress are concerned, and I want it done today. You understand?”
“I want it fixed, and I want it fixed immediately. Understand?” McCain snapped at multiple top CBP officials.
McCain’s response was to rules handed down by the CBP that stated Congressional lawmakers and media are forbidden from taking photos, using recording devices or speaking with detainees or staff while touring the immigration detention facilities.
Kerlikowske responded that the rules were in place to protect the thousands of children detainees being held at the facilities.
“The children have a right to privacy, and that’s why we’re not having their faces shown,” Kerlikowske stated.
But McCain dismissed that answer on several occasions throughout the hearing.
“Are you telling me, when I visit a detention facility, that I can’t bring a cell phone with me? Are you saying that?” he asked. “A United States senator, visiting a facility, these are the instructions that you have signed? Is that what you’re saying?”
McCain questioned whether he could take photos of “other things” during his visits, and Kerlikow said said that government officials could “certainly make arrangements” for him to take a photo, “just not of the children.”
But McCain reiterated that the rules handed down by CBP make no mention of such arrangements for anyone, let alone members of Congress.
“I want it fixed, and I want it fixed immediately. Understand?” said McCain. “The people of Arizona elected me, and I’m not supposed to even carry a cell phone with me?”