- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 11, 2019

Trump officials defended the administration’s recent raids on illegal immigrants and the businesses who exploit them, even though a viral video is putting a tearful face to the impact of the operation. 

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that despite the emotional pushback to the raids, it’s the government’s duty to enforce the law and targeting companies that take advantage of illegal immigrants is part of that.

Last week, the Justice Department and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency apprehended over 680 people in a joint operation at several food processing plans in Mississippi, the largest single-state arrest in U.S. history, in an effort to crack down on illegal immigration. 

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After the arrests, a video of 11-year-old Magdalena Gomez Gregorio, went viral as she begged for her father to be released from custody. 

“Government please show some heart,” the girl said, according to local news. “Let my parent be free.”

Critics of the raids point to Ms. Gregorio’s tears as a heartbreaking example of the human cost of the government’s policy.

A handful of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have spoken out against the raids, particularly in light of the recent shooting in El Paso that targeted Hispanics, saying the administration’s immigration policies and President Trump’s rhetoric contribute to a toxic environment that make minorities vulnerable.

“People are afraid in this country,” Sen. Kamala D. Harris said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“This administration has directed DHS to conduct these raids as part of what I believe is this administration’s campaign of terror, which is to make whole populations of people afraid to go to work,” she added. “Children are afraid to go to school for fear that when they come home, their parents won’t be there.”

On the same show, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan acknowledged that the timing of the raid was “unfortunate.”

Mr. Morgan pushed back, however, arguing that there was crime that officials had to hold people accountable for.

“I understand that the girl is upset and I get that. But her father committed a crime,” he said.

“It’s not just a victimless crime going on here,” he added. “First of all, they are here illegally. And then a lot of times, there’s additional fraud that goes with this.”

He also noted that Magdalena was reunited with her mother within a few hours.

Mr. McAleenan argued that agents on the ground conducted the operation with “sensitivity,” releasing 32 detainees on site and 270 more within the first day.

“ICE took great pains to make sure there were no child-care issues that were ignored,” he said. “That’s 45% of the people arrested released for humanitarian reasons, including childcare.”

Mr. Trump, however, said he hopes the raids sends a message to illegal immigrants — deportation is a real threat.

“I want people to know that if they come into the United States illegally, they’re getting out, they’re going to be brought out,” Mr. Trump said at the White House on Friday. “This serves as a very good deterrent.”

When pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on why the government wasn’t doing more to punish American companies and business owners that hire illegal immigrants, particularly businesses connected to Mr. Trump, Mr. Morgan said the DOJ is conducting an ongoing criminal investigation into the Mississippi plants.

He also said he was “offended” by Mr. Tapper’s claim he and other law enforcement officials were “turning a blind eye.”

Mr. McAleenan said the DOJ’s investigation that led to the Mississippi raids will likely lead to charges for the companies.

“These employers are exploiting undocumented workers … those employers are just ignoring the law entirely in what they do,” he said.

⦁ Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

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