Acting DHS head shouted down by protesters at immigration conference

UPDATED – WASHINGTON (CNS) — Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, could not get a word out.

He was supposed to be the keynote speaker at the 16th annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference at Georgetown University Law Center the morning of Oct. 7, but he’d barely said, “Thank you,” before chanting protesters drowned him out for several minutes.

Finally, after the protesters had been shushed for the sixth time, he said: “We’ll give it one more shot. We’ll give it one more try, otherwise I’m going back to work and trying to secure this country.”

“There’s lots to cover today. There are some very serious issues we can discuss today,” McAleenan began.

A chant about the “jailing” of immigrant children resumed. “OK, thank you, have a good day!” he said and walked out of the lecture room.

The organizers of the conference — the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., the Georgetown University Law Center and the Migration Policy Institute — later issued separate statements reacting to the protesters.

All said that while they oppose the Trump administration’s immigration policies, they are committed to having dialogue among differing groups and “hearing from all sides,” something that they said has always been a hallmark of the annual conference.

The panel discussion that came after the disruption of McAleenan’s speech didn’t draw any similar audience reactions, but it was seemingly impossible for the bitterness of partisan politics and President Donald Trump’s harsh comments about immigrants not to seep in.

“I see some continuities between Trump and the previous administration,” said Julia Preston, a writer for the Marshall Project and a former New York Times reporter. She thought Trump’s rhetoric about a porous Southwestern border and “big beautiful wall” distracted from the reality of more immigration enforcement since the 1990s, particularly since the end of the President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama administrations.

By Kurt Jensen for CATHOLIC PHILLY
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