The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus said Friday that reports that the Trump administration had considered deploying tens of thousands of National Guard troops to apprehend undocumented immigrants were âoutrageousâ and âvery reminiscent of what led up to World War II.â
Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) made the statement in an interview for C-SPANâs âNewsmakersâ program shortly after the Associated Press broke news of the draft Department of Homeland Security memo.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the memo was ânot a White House documentâ and that âthere is no effort at all to round up, to utilize the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants.â
But Crowley said âseeing these kind of actions . . . even being talked aboutâ was alarming.
âUsing the National Guard, the Army, to come into our communities, to police our communities, to disrupt and to gather people up for the purpose of deporting them, is a very, very scary thing,â he said. âItâs not a country that Iâm familiar with called the United States. Itâs not how we conduct ourselves. We see that happen in other countries that arenât as free and arenât as open as we are to welcoming immigrants. We welcome immigrants. We want the best, the brightest and the bravest. . . . And now theyâre under fear that armed [men], you know, with M-16 rifles, come to your door and break it down and leave your children who are American citizens there but take you and deport you.â
Pressed on the comparison to the run-up to World War II â a reference that could easily be interpreted as a reference to Nazi Germany â Crowley backed off only slightly: âI think we have to always look at our past and look at the history of the world, to put into context where we are today. Iâm not describing and saying this is like Germany per se, or making any comparison to Nazis or anything else. What Iâm saying is that we as a people have to be concerned about the use of our military to usurp the authority of our police departments. When anyone is suggesting that, that is something to be very, very concerned about.â
The remarks on the immigration order came amid a wide-ranging interview in which Crowley repeatedly expressed concern about President Trump, about his alleged ties to and apparent sympathies for Russia and about whether congressional Republicans will provide checks on his administration.
âWhen the president omits the mentioning of the Jewish people in the Holocaust remembrance and thereâs not a peep from a Republican member of the House? Thatâs disturbing,â Crowley said, noting that Democrats attempted to bring a resolution to the House floor addressing the omission. âThey refused to take that up. They dismiss it. The president continues to dismiss it. Thatâs not going away. . . . I think theyâre tremendously scared of him.â
At other points, Crowley accused Trump and members of his administration of âlying to the American people over and over againâ and said the next four years will be âvery, very rocky, if he gets to four years.â
Crowley spoke a week after House Democrats met in Baltimore to lick their wounds after losing the presidency and failing to win the House majority for the fourth consecutive election cycle. He acknowledged that âthere was a good bit of soul-searching going onâ at the policy retreat and that, âeven a few months after the election, weâre still finding our way.â
But Crowley said the onus was on Trump and Republicans, given their control of Washington, to approach Democrats about finding a governing consensus, and he said Trumpâs actions after one month in office had given Democrats little reason to work with Trump to get things done.
He made reference to a string of Sunday talk-show appearances last week by presidential adviser Stephen Miller, who said in a CBS interview that âthe powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.â
Crowley took sharp exception to that claim.
âEverything will be questioned,â he said. âBy the legislative branch â Democrats right now, and hopefully Republican colleagues â and by the judiciary. Everything will be questioned, so they must erase that from their minds. But if, in the end, Republicans come about to actually take up this cause, itâs good for America, and thatâs what weâre driving them towards.â