Skillicorn takes action against 'unfounded attacks' like that of Rep. Underwood on U.S. border agents
U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville) was going for shock value when she referred to the deaths of migrant children under the care of border security agents as "intentional," the Republican state House Representative from East Dundee said during a recent interview.
Rep. Allen Skillicorn said during an email interview with DuPage Policy Journal that Underwood is seeking her turn in the spotlight recently held by other Democratic freshmen U.S. House Reps. Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Abdullahi Omar.
"Lauren Underwood is desperately seeking national attention like Ocasio-Cortez and Omar," Skillicorn said, referring to the U.S. Congressional representatives from New York and Minnesota, respectively. "This was an intentional and dishonest smear. The humanitarian crisis is due to Congress' inaction on border security, not the honorable actions of public servants that put their lives and limbs on the line. Underwood ought to be ashamed."
Underwood orchestrated a heated exchange during her questioning of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan during a committee budget hearing on May 22. In response, Skillicorn has introduced state House Resolution 421, which he explained in a statement.
"To strongly condemn the unfounded attacks on these public servants and the memory of ICE agents such as U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, killed in the ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-running scandal; Agent Rogelio Martinez, Agent Isaac Morales, Agent David Gomez and 22 other agents who have died in the line of duty in the last 10 years," Skillicorn said.
While questioning McAleenan, Rep. Underwood referred to photos of migrants sleeping on the ground outside in overcrowded Border Patrol facilities, despite increased funding from Congress to provide humanitarian assistance at the southern border.
"This is more than a question of resources," Underwood said into a live mic. "Congress has been more than willing to provide resources and to work with you, Mr. Secretary, to address the security and humanitarian concerns and, at this point, with five children dead and 5,000 separated from their families, this is intentional. It's a policy choice being made on purpose by this administration, and it's cruel and inhumane."
When Rep. Underwood declined to walk back her comments, McAleenan responded, "That's an appalling accusation. Our men and women fight hard to protect people in our custody every single day."
The committee subsequently voted to strike Underwood's comments from the record.
Underwood, a licensed registered nurse and the youngest African-American Congresswoman ever, later defended her comments to a reporter of a suburban Chicago newspaper, saying the Trump administration's policies are responsible for the deaths of illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border with Mexico.
"There are policies that have been put in place that contribute to the ongoing medical conditions, lack of availability of treatment and the way [migrants] are handled before they are able to access medical providers," Underwood told the Daily Herald earlier this week.
Skillicorn countered during his DuPage Policy Journal interview that migrants have more to fear from other sources than from U.S. agents doing all they can to secure the nation's porous southern border.
"Call it a barrier, fence or wall, we need more security to protect our country and protect defenseless children from unscrupulous coyotes and agents who use children as pawns," Skillicorn said.