Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said he confronted acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli at a bar in Washington on Wednesday over the Trump administration’s treatment of undocumented immigrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
O’Malley, who lost a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, told The Washington Post that he was at the Dubliner, an Irish pub that’s popular with graduates of Washington’s Gonzaga College High School on Thanksgiving Eve, when Cuccinelli walked in.
Both O’Malley, 56, and Cuccinelli, 51, attended Gonzaga in the 1980s, graduating five years apart, the Post reported.
O’Malley, reportedly face-to-face with Cuccinelli, bashed the Trump administration’s migrant family separation policies and the abhorrent conditions of detention centers at the U.S. southern border.
“We all let him know how we felt about him putting refugee immigrant kids in cages — certainly not what we were taught by the Jesuits at Gonzaga,” O’Malley told the Post via text message.
He described Cuccinelli as “the son of immigrant grandparents who cages children for a fascist president.” (It was actually Cuccinelli’s great-grandparents who were immigrants.)
The two men long have represented opposite political positions on immigration. For instance, as a Virginia state senator, Cuccinelli sponsored legislation to strip the citizenship of children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants, reported the Post. He pursued that policy and took other hard-line stances on immigration issues as Virginia’s attorney general from 2010-2014.
O’Malley, during his 2007-2015 tenure as governor, promoted policies to provide additional resources and rights to those same children.
He discussed the tense encounter with the Post after a tweet from another bar patron who witnessed it went viral Wednesday evening.
“O’Malley was shouting,” Siobhan Houton Arnold tweeted. “I don’t think Cuccinelli was responding. I think he’s like, ‘Time to go. Just got here and I’m leaving.’ He pretty much retreated.”
O’Malley insisted to the Post that he wasn’t shouting but was speaking loud enough to be heard in the crowded bar.
A representative for Cuccinelli did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.