House Democrats say Trump administration is blocking visits to border sites

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Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan speaks during a press conference in San Salvador, El Salvador, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Oversight and Reform Committee is objecting to the Trump administration’s decision to block committee staffers from conducting additional visits at 11 border detention facilities after visits last week revealed serious problems.

The committee chairman, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, says the refusal contradicts testimony by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan that he welcomed congressional visits to the facilities.

The department’s inspector general has warned that some sites pose “an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained.”

Cummings says in a letter to McAleenan that it appears the administration “expects Congress to be satisfied with receiving agency tours of facilities” without questioning the department’s policies or decisions. He says “that is not the way effective oversight works.”

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