A Department of Homeland Security whistleblower testified Thursday that the "retaliation" against her for probing a controversial visa program was so extensive she was told she couldn't "carry or own a personal weapon" — a step she described as a constitutional rights violation, and just one of several ways she was punished for speaking out.
Taylor Johnson, a senior special agent in the Homeland Security Investigations division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testified at a Senate hearing alongside whistleblowers from several other agencies who claim to have faced similar harassment.
Johnson told lawmakers she ran into resistance after investigating the so-called EB-5 program, which offers visas to investors. She said she looked into the program over concerns about security risks, questioning whether visas were being approved with little scrutiny.
But Johnson said her managers began to hear complaints about her queries. Soon, she was removed from the investigation, and the case was closed.
From there, it got worse.
Johnson told the Senate Homeland Security Committee her "weapon and credentials" were taken, her government vehicle was confiscated, and her access to the building where she worked and government databases was revoked.
Further, she said, "I was told I couldn't even carry or own a personal weapon, which is a constitutional rights violation."
FoxNews.com has reached out to ICE for comment on the allegations.
Johnson also asserted that when a social worker tried to verify her employment, the worker was told Johnson had been terminated over a "criminal offense."
Choking up, Johnson testified, "I almost lost my 1-year-old-child."
She wasn't terminated, though. Instead, Johnson said she was told to report to another building that houses inmates and processes parolees. She said she was "held a hostage by my own agency."
"Agents and officers need to be valued by management, not punished, when they disclose factual and important information to our leadership," Johnson said.
The EB-5 program has come under criticism before, and Johnson was hardly the only official with questions about it. A recent inspector general report concluded Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas violated ethics rules by intervening as head of USCIS several times in EB-5 visa cases involving prominent Democrats. He has since said, "I regret the perception my own involvement created."
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