By a member of Indivisible VA-10 and constituent of Rep. Barbara Comstock
Virginia’s 10th Congressional District voters have been frustrated by their representative’s reluctance to meet with them ever since she was elected. But Barbara Comstock (R, VA-10), has representatives, too – her staffers and interns who interact with the public. A recent telephone call to her flagship office, fielded by an intern and a staffer, reveals the hate and fear which is a hallmark of Comstock’s immigration stance. Does Barbara Comstock want people to know that the people who work and speak for her are calling children terrorists?
Yes, I know, that sounds like hyperbole. But one voter’s account of a recent conversation she had with Comstock’s Washington, DC office supports her assertion that the office describes asylum-seekers — innocent children! — as potential threats to national security. (I should note that this voter, although she told Comstock’s office her name, is not willing to be named in this article. She is afraid of repercussions. Let that sink in. She is afraid of what could happen to her if it comes out that she called her Congresswoman to ask about a policy.)
My source had called the office in the U.S. Capitol to ask Rep. Comstock to comment on the separation of families taking place on the border between Mexico and the U.S. Comstock was not available, of course—she never is. The intern who covers immigration for Rep. Comstock was not available, either. But another intern — Elaine — was available. Elaine offered the response constituents of Barbara Comstock are familiar with: she had “not had a chance to speak to the Congresswoman about the issue.” My source pointed out that interns in the office are part of a system which is abusing children and families, and should, themselves, be held accountable for their role in the system. Elaine refused to accept that accountability, and passed the phone — and the buck — without warning to Ryan McManus, the Legislative Director, who handles immigration issues (and who was suddenly, amazingly, available after all!).
For a person tasked with immigration issues, McManus has significant gaps in his knowledge of the subject. My source had a number of questions about how these young asylum seekers were being cared for. McManus, she reports, said that “Homeland Security knows all of the answers about questions like adult to child ratio, who changes diapers, who feeds them, whether there are people who can speak to them in their language, who bathes them, if they can play, etc. He did not provide any of the answers at all.”
What McManus did provide was a paranoid narrative of the national security risk these children pose. Women could, he told my source, “be holding a 3-year-old but have a bomb strapped to their body.” McManus, my source continues, “gave [her] the line that they are taking them and caging them to keep them from human traffickers, though his leading line was that they — these innocent kids — are a national security threat.” After expressing his confused impressions of these families, who are at once threatened and threatening, in a loud angry tone which no public servant has a right to use towards the public (setting aside the basics of civil discourse), McManus ran out of rage, and hung up.
For the last year, Casa in Action, Indivisible, and other groups concerned with immigration policy in this busy, growing, and increasingly diverse area (District 10 embraces parts of Fairfax and Prince William Counties, as well as Manassas City, Winchester, and all of Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick Counties) have frequently visited Rep. Comstock’s satellite Sterling office, as well as her office in the Cannon House Building in DC, to ask for her position on immigration, including the Muslim travel ban and TPS. Comstock has never ONCE met with these visitors. And more than once, Comstock’s staff has refused to allow them to record their visits (This is not legal, by the way. On one occasion, I was in Sterling when a staffer tried to prevent recording). Comstock’s staff has also locked visitors out or called the police to accuse them of trespass. If Barbara Comstock would like to correct the record on what her position is on immigrants and asylum-seekers, she is welcome to do so. Of course, to do that, she would need to come out of hiding.
But for the moment, we are enlightened — sort of. The families being put in cages, separated from their children, and in one horrifying instance, being driven to such desperation that a father died by suicide in a padded cell where he had been imprisoned without his children, are terrorists in the eyes of Barbara Comstock (R), representative for District 10. She hasn’t got the guts to say so herself, so she is using her interns and legislative director to say it for her. My source declares that these interns “have a role in this atrocity,” an accusation that the interns reject. I’m with my source on this one: all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing—and these interns (and also Comstock’s Legislative Director) are taking a far more active role than that. If your job is to protect someone who is doing wrong: QUIT!