Kyl Defends Julie Myers’s Role In Lauding Racially Offensive Halloween Costume

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"Kyl Defends Julie Myers’s Role In Lauding Racially Offensive Halloween Costume"

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has refused to condemn immigration head Julie Myers for awarding “Most Original Costume” to an employee “who dressed in prison stripes, dreadlocks and dark makeup for a Halloween gathering at the agency.” The White House has simply stated it is up to Chertoff to “make any personnel decisions.”

Today, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Kyl (R-AZ) also resisted admonishing Myers. When asked whether he and his colleagues “support her at this point,” McConnell ducked the question by saying he was “not up on” the issue. Kyl went so far as to praise her performance at the agency:

MCCONNELL: You know what I always dread at a press conference?

Somebody asking me a question I’m not up on.

(LAUGHTER)

And I really can’t respond to it because I haven’t checked on that nomination lately. … Anybody else got anything?

KYL: Just one thing: In terms of job performance, I don’t know of anybody, now, that believes that she has not done a credible job.

Though McConnell and Kyl tried to brush off the incident, Myers’s actions generated outrage from others on the right and the left. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has put a hold on Myers’s confirmation to head ICE. (She currently serves as a recess appointee.) Even right-wing blogger Debbie Schlussel said that “heads must roll.” Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) agreed:

It is extremely troubling and quite unfortunate that Ms. Myers, who serves at an organization tasked with protecting our homeland and civil rights, cannot determine that an employee dressed in black face is both offensive and potentially harmful to workplace morale.

Myers’ qualifications have been questioned from the start. Her appointment was widely seen as an exercise in cronysim. She is the niece of former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Richard Myers and married to Chertoff’s former chief of staff, John F. Wood.

Far from doing “a credible job,” Myers’ time at ICE has seen the agency shift toward a disturbing willingness to retaliate against immigrants who speak up to defend their rights and interests. ICE has arrested individuals for speaking out on everything from immigration reform, to workplace rights, to the right to report crimes without fear of retaliation. Over the summer, ICE officials targeted immigrants in their anti-gang roundups, often arresting legal immigrants without warrants.

Transcript:

QUESTION: Senator McConnell, one of the items on the Senate agenda is the nomination of Julie Myers to be the head of ICE.

As you know, she’s been embroiled in a scandal over a Halloween party and a costume worn by one of her employees.

Do you think she remains the right person to head that agency?

And will you and your colleagues support her at this point?

MCCONNELL: You know what I always dread at a press conference?

Somebody asking me a question I’m not upon.

(LAUGHTER)

And I really can’t respond to it because I haven’t checked on that nomination lately.

QUESTION: Well, it’s out of committee…

MCCONNELL: I’ll check on it. I’ll check on it. If you want to — maybe somebody else has something to say about it. I’ll check on it. If you’d like to get a comment from me later, I’ll give it to you.

Anybody else got anything?

KYL: Just one thing: In terms of job performance, I don’t know of anybody, now, that believes that she has not done a credible job.

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