Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan walked out of the 16th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference without delivering his keynote address because shouting protestors repeatedly interrupted him. According to the Georgetown Law website the event’s sponsors included the Migration Policy Institute, Catholic Legal Immigration Network and Georgetown Law.
The Migration Policy Institute’s Doris Meissner beseeched the protestors to allow McAleenan to deliver his remarks, but each time the Acting Secretary attempted to give his speech the protestors resumed yelling. This cycle occurred multiple times before McAleenan finally walked away without delivering his remarks.
WATCH: Protesters disrupt Acting Homeland Security Sec. Kevin McAleenan remarks. Following multiple attempts to start, he thanks hosts and departs.
— CSPAN (@cspan) October 7, 2019
Here’s a video of the protesters who disrupted Kevin McAleenan’s speech. McAleenan tried to speak several times and said he hoped to go “above the politics and the daily news cycle.” He eventually left the stage without giving remarks pic.twitter.com/XI734euhj1
— Ted Hesson (@tedhesson) October 7, 2019
A sign held by protestors bears the phrase “Hate is not normal” and the protestors can be heard shouting call-and-response including those shown below. The protestors also read a list of names. These were “the names of children who died at the border under the Trump administration,” according to Politico. The New York Times said they were “the migrants who have died after being detained at the border.” Fox News described them as “the names of children who had died in immigration custody.”
“When immigrants are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!”
“When children are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!”
“When democracy is under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!”
Meissner implored the rowdy protestors to allow McAleenan to speak. During one of her attempts she appealed to the protestors: “And in fighting back let’s have an opportunity to engage with people that are making the decisions. Please allow this speaker to make his remarks and this audience who has come here for this purpose to hear and engage. Please. You may stay standing, but please stop shouting.”
Doris Meissner has tried to stop protesters, saying they’re “robbing” the audience of a valuable exchange with acting DHS Secretary McAleenan. A protester shouted that people are being robbed of their lives
— Ted Hesson (@tedhesson) October 7, 2019
Some in the audience applauded following Meissner’s remarks, apparently expressing agreement that they would like to hear McAleenan’s speech. But alas, the interruptions continued.
“Thanks Doris, we’ll give it one more shot,” McAleenan said. “As a career law enforcement professional, I’ve dedicated my career to protecting the right to free speech and all the values we hold dear in America, from all threats,” the Acting Secretary said to which an audience member then yelled the profanity, “Bull****.”
Following that outburst McAleenan was going to give it another go but then the protestors began shouting again and McAleenan appeared ready to leave. President of the Migration Policy Institute Andrew Selee stepped up to the microphone and vainly appealed to the protestors to cease their shouting.
“Colleagues, you’re invoking democracy, democracy requires dialogue, it requires listening, it requires a two-way street,” Selee said. “The Secretary has agreed to take questions and answers, we are robbing time from the period of questions and answers where he can engage with the public. Could we please listen to his remarks and then have a chance to question him? Including people who disagree with him may question him.”
Deeply saddened that protesters decided to interrupt @DHSMcAleenan during his speech at a conf organized by @MigrationPolicy @cliniclegal @GeorgetownLaw. We need to hear from diverse perspectives in a democratic society, and the audience lost the chance to engage w/him on policy.
— Andrew Selee (@SeleeAndrew) October 7, 2019
After speaking very briefly McAleenan was once again interrupted by the protestors and then proceeded to exit the event. The Department of Homeland Security posted his planned remarks online along with a comment about the fiasco.