Roswell Congresswoman Karen Handel presided over a heated exchange on the House floor Friday afternoon when a California colleague played an audio recording of detained children crying in a federally run camp along the U.S.- Mexico border.
President Donald Trump has come under fire in recent weeks for his administration’s decision to separate more than 2,000 undocumented children from parents seeking to enter the country illegally.
The ProPublica audio recording was played by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, who told his colleagues “if the Statue of Liberty could cry, she would be crying today.”
“As I stand here, there are 2,300 babies and kids who are ripped away from their parents by our government and are in detention facilities across America,” Lieu said, standing behind a photograph of children sleeping on the floor of an immigration detention facility.
“Imagine being ripped away from your mother or father and not knowing if you’re going to see them again," he said. "What must that sound like?”
He started playing the recording of a children crying at the detention facility. Handel, who was at the speaker’s chair presiding over the House floor, allowed the recording to play for several seconds before tapping her gavel and calling on Lieu to pause the tape.
“The gentleman will suspend,” the Republican congresswoman said, telling Lieu he was “in breach of quorum.” “House rules prohibit the use of that device.”
Lieu objected, telling Handle there is no rule that says he can’t play sounds and asking why she was trying to keep the American people from hearing what it sounds like inside a detention facility.
Handel continued banging her gavel, louder each time, as she called on him to halt the recording.
“I think the American people need to hear this,” Lieu said over the sounds of a little girl crying for her father in Spanish.
The recording continued for more than a minute and a half until Handel called upon the Sergeant at Arms to take action and Lieu yielded his time.
In a tweet that included a video recording of the interaction, Lieu called Trump’s practice of separating children from their parents at the border cruel and inhumane.
“Have you heard the cries of these children?” he wrote. “Listen as they are entered into the congressional record today.”
Handel’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.