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Customs And Border Protections Chief Mark Morgan Defended The Mississippi Raids Despite Children Left Without Parents

The video of Magdalena Gomez Gregorio, 11, weeping as she’s seen being interviewed pleading for the return of her father, went viral last week. It captured the heartbreak and outrage many felt when news broke that the Justice Department and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency apprehended over 680 people in a joint operation at several food processing plans in Mississippi. The raid was the largest single-state arrest in U.S. history with efforts to crack down on illegal immigration and left many children like Gomez without their parents.

“Government, please put your heart — let my parents be free with everybody else, please,” Gomez says as she weeps in front of reporters. “I need my dad … mommy,” the girl cries as she speaks with a local television station outside a gym. “My dad didn’t do nothing. He’s not a criminal.”

On Sunday, acting CBP commissioner Mark Morgan was put on the spot when he was interviewed by CNN anchor Jake Tapper. It was then that Morgan downplayed the emotional video of Gomez crying.

Credit: @CNNpolitics / Twitter

Tapper pressed Morgan on the issue of immigration and the outrage that has followed since news of the raids broke last Wednesday. The acting CBP commissioner said during the interview that he understands much of the anger and sorrow that people are feeling after watching the video but defended the agency’s work. 

“I understand that the girl is upset and I get that. But her father committed a crime,” Morgan told Tapper on “State of the Union.” Morgan then went on to say that the girl would be reunited with her mother shortly after the video was shot. “I know it’s emotional and I know it’s done on purpose to show a picture like that.”

Morgan noted that employment of undocumented people is not a victimless crime. He mentioned that many of them illegal citizens take part in unlawful practices such as social security and other identity fraud.

“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,” Morgan said. “How about interview the people that — because a majority of time in the cases, these individuals that are here illegally, they also steal identities of US citizens, they get fraudulent documents, social security cards, and et cetera and so it is not just a victimless crime that’s going on here.”

Morgan was also pressed on the question of why ICE hadn’t conducted any raids or investigations into President Trump’s eight properties given reports that the clubs and hotels employ undocumented people.

Credit: @Vox / Twitter

The Washington Post reported last Friday that a Trump-owned construction company has been employing undocumented immigrants for a number of years. In return, this has raised questions about how the Trump Organization has followed in its own steps and on its pledge to more carefully scrutinize the legal status of its workers. Tapper asked Morgan about the report but failed to give any solid details on the investigation. 

“This is just one of many headlines about undocumented immigrants working for President Trump’s properties—whether it’s his construction crews, [people] working at his properties [or people] working at his golf clubs. There have been zero raids on any of these companies despite headline after headline after headline,” Tapper asked Morgan.

“You really can’t say that for sure,” Morgan responded. “There are investigations going on all the time that you’re unaware of. … Of course, it’s going to jeopardize the investigation if I come on here and I talk to you about an investigation that’s going on.”

The employment of workers without legal status is an issue that the Trump administration has attempted to take on. The hiring of undocumented workers gives a company a competitive advantage, industry officials told the Washington Post. they note that undocumented laborers are less likely to complain if they’re being mistreated at work or take on employers for malpractice. 

Former Trump Organization employee Jorge Castro, 55,  told the Washington Post that he left the company in April after nine years. He said that while Trump has rallied against illegal immigration he has often been the one employing them. 

“If you’re a good worker, papers don’t matter,” Castro said. Trump “doesn’t want undocumented people in the country but at his properties, he still has them.”

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