For The Record

Hice profile rises with immigration spat, Atlanta conference

By: - August 6, 2019 6:50 am

A Georgia congressman’s recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border prompted a social media spat with a high-profile House of Representative colleague last week over sanitary conditions at migrant detention centers.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Monroe), who represents a broad stretch of rural Georgia from north of Atlanta to Augusta, published a video on July 29, in which he describes the features of a toilet in a detention facility along the border. He says the toilet bears a sink attached to its top from which detainees can drink water. That would counter claims by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said on Twitter in early July that women housed in a detention facility she visited were “told … to drink out of the toilets.” 

Hice tweeted that Ocasio-Cortez and a group of her colleagues referred to as “the Squad” “deliberately misled the American people by claiming that detainees are ‘drinking from toilets.’ ”

That message elicited a response the next day from Ocasio-Cortez, who sits with Hice on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. She accused Hice of “lying” and noted sworn testimony about the toilets during a committee hearing shortly after her visit last month.

“…we’re going to see each other at work & you’re going to pretend to be nice to me,” she said on Twitter.

Hice, responding to Ocasio-Cortez, said his intent is to share “the reality of the southern border crisis firsthand.”

“If you’d like to get together when we’re next in DC to discuss truly resolving the border crisis and fully funding our immigration agencies, I’m eager to do so,” he said.

Hice, in a three-day trip to the border along Texas and Arizona, also recorded video of a detention facility he described as being stocked “like a miniature Walmart” and, citing information from a local Arizona sheriff, a pile of clothes and other items lying in desert brush that he suggested could have been abandoned by drug smugglers crossing into the U.S. from Mexico. 

Hice is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump’s push to fund and construct miles of fencing along the border. He also opposes granting asylum to many undocumented immigrants, according to his office’s website, and supports withholding federal aid to cities that do not share certain information with federal immigration authorities.

Hice is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. The group’s current chair, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, said at an Atlanta rally last Friday that he thinks Hice should be the Caucus’ next chairman. 

Now in his third term, Hice is seeking re-election to his 10th Congressional District seat in 2020. He is challenged by Clyde Elrod, a Democrat.

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Beau Evans
Beau Evans

Beau Evans has covered local and state government and breaking news in New Orleans and California. He’s reported on immigration issues, the threat of rising seas to coastal areas, public safety and hurricanes. At The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Evans detailed the critical role government plays to ensure that people in a community have access to clean water and other public needs. In 2018, his investigative reporting revealed top officials at New Orleans’ cash-poor water utility dealt themselves huge raises, prompting several to resign. Evans’ prior reporting was in West Marin north of San Francisco for The Point Reyes Light. Evans is an Atlanta native who graduated with honors from The Lovett School and is an honors graduate of North Carolina’s Davidson College. Beau was with the Georgia Recorder until January 4th, 2020.