Acting CBP Director: These Aren't Raids On The Undocumented, They Are Law Enforcement On Illegal Immigrants

|

CNN's Jake Tapper interviewed acting Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan about the Mississippi ICE raids which took place this week.

"I never said the 'raids,' as you called them, would be focused on violent criminals," Morgan said. "I think words matter. These aren't raids. These are targeted law enforcement operations. And, in this case, this was a joint criminal investigation with ICE and the Department of Justice targeting worksite enforcement, meaning companies that knowingly and willfully hire illegal aliens, so that, in most cases, they can pay them reduced wages, exploit them further for their bottom line. That is what this investigation was about, a criminal investigation."





"So it seems like undocumented workers, the dad of that little girl and the like, often bear the brunt of these raids and not the employers who hire them. Isn't it important to hold businesses responsible for this?" CNN's Tapper asked.

Morgan replied: "These aren't undocumented immigrants. They are illegal immigrants. They are here in this country illegally. They're obtaining jobs illegally."

"So I think words matter," he repeated. "And let's keep in mind that ICE and -- during this target enforcement operation, they took extraordinary efforts to make sure that when -- everyone that was apprehended, they had actually agents dedicated full time during the operation, that they did nothing but be prepared to reach out to schools, to reach out to day care. And every single person that they apprehended, the first question that they asked was, do you have a child? Where are they? Are they at day care or are they at school?"

TAPPER: Now, you and the president said just a few weeks ago that the pending ICE raids coming down the pike were going to be really focused on violent criminals. That is not what happened here in Mississippi. Why not?

MARK MORGAN, ACTING COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: Well, so, first of all, I never said that the raids, as you call, were focused on violent criminals. I have never said that.

And, also, I think words matter. These aren't raids. These are targeted law enforcement operations. And, in this case, this was a joint criminal investigation with ICE and the Department of Justice targeting work site enforcement, meaning companies that knowingly and willfully hire illegal aliens, so that, in most cases, they can pay them reduced wages, exploit them further for their bottom line.

That is what this investigation was about, a criminal investigation, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, so I want to get to that in one second.

MORGAN: Sure.

TAPPER: But just to give your exact quote -- you're right, you didn't say violent.

You said -- quote -- "Their part has always been and it will be to go after those that are criminal aliens, meaning those people that are here illegally and have committed additional crimes against American citizens."

MORGAN: So that was my response to a question about priorities, and that ICE's priorities will always be to go after criminal aliens as a priority.

That doesn't mean they exclude all demographics. We still have to apply consequences, meaning enforce the rule of law, for those individuals that are here illegally against immigration law.

TAPPER: So it seems like undocumented workers, the dad of that little girl and the like, often bear the brunt of these raids and not the employers who hire them.

Isn't it important to hold businesses responsible for this?

Syracuse found -- university -- researchers at Syracuse University found that, from April 2018 to March 2019, the Trump administration prosecuted zero companies and only 11 individuals for employing undocumented immigrants?

Obviously, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been targeted.

MORGAN: So, think about what you are saying, Jake.

So, you're saying, on one hand, that we're not doing enough, and then, when we go out and we actually do what you're saying we need to do more of, they are chastised for doing that.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Well, I'm saying, why aren't you focusing more on the companies and the business owners?

MORGAN: They -- they are.

Again, this was a joint criminal investigation between ICE and the Department of Justice, which was targeting the companies that were hiring illegal aliens.

That's exactly...

TAPPER: Are there any charges against the companies or the business owners?

MORGAN: It is a pending investigation right now. There was a criminal search warrant to go in there to collect more information, more intelligence. And that investigation is ongoing. But that is the intent of that investigation.

TAPPER: Is it important for businesses to not employ these individuals who are in this country illegally and exploit them, as you suggested?

MORGAN: Absolutely.

And -- but it is twofold. So I think the American people need to understand that is exactly what is happening. So these individuals seeking a better life first are being exploited by the cartels to come here.

TAPPER: Right.

MORGAN: Once they come in the United States, then they're further exploited by United States companies by paying them reduced wages.

But that is only the first element of this. These individuals here and the girl -- I know it is emotional. I know it is done on purpose to show a picture like that.

TAPPER: What is done on purpose?

MORGAN: But -- but -- to show the girl. Jake, listen...

TAPPER: Just the people in the wake of these raids. We interview people who are affected by them.

MORGAN: But -- but how about interview the people that -- because a majority of time in these cases, these individuals that are here illegally, they also steal identities of U.S. citizens, they get fraudulent documents, Social Security cards and et cetera.

[09:20:00]

And so it is not just a victimless crime that is going on here. First of all, they are here illegally. And then a lot of times, there is additional fraud that goes with this for them to try to get these jobs in the companies.

So I understand that the girl is upset. And I get that. But her father committed a crime. And just so the American people know also, is that girl, her mother was home, and she was reunited with her mother within a few hours that night.

TAPPER: I want to ask you, because -- because, I mean, you're talking about how this is a pending investigation into these businesses, but we see the human cost of this borne by the undocumented immigrants and their families over and over and over again.

And, like, I just gave you this statistic from Syracuse, in the last year, zero companies prosecuted, only 11 individuals prosecuted.

I mean, if you focused on the companies, wouldn't that have more of a deterring effect than going after these individuals, who are desperate?

MORGAN: So, Jake, again, I -- I -- this is the third time -- that was the intent of that investigation.

TAPPER: But I'm talking about, in the last year, only -- zero companies and 11 individuals for the last year.

MORGAN: I -- I can't speak to the Department of Justice on how many cases they have.

I'm the commissioner of CBP, so I'm not involved in those investigations.

But what I can tell you is, that is exactly what this investigation was about. And, again, let's go back to words matter. These aren't undocumented immigrants. They are illegal immigrants. They are here in this country illegally. They're obtaining jobs illegally.

So I think words matter. And let's keep in mind that ICE and -- during this target enforcement operation, they took extraordinary efforts to make sure that when -- everyone that was apprehended, they had actually agents dedicated full time during the operation, that they did nothing but be prepared to reach out to schools, to reach out to day care.

And every single person that they apprehended, the first question that they asked was, do you have a child? Where are they? Are they at day care or are they at school?

They had phone banks there for everybody to call to reach out to their loved ones and their children. Again, these agents contacted over 12 schools, and they made sure that they were -- had a full understanding of where everybody is.

And that is why over 300 of the 600-plus arrested that were reunited on humanitarian reasons, because they had kids, they had children. They were released on their own recognizance.

Comment
Show comments Hide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives