ICE official on children left behind after Mississippi raids: We're 'not a social services agency'

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials fired back at criticism of the agency after it was involved in a raid at a food processing facility in Mississippi where as many as 800 suspected undocumented immigrants were arrested.

An ICE official told NBC News on Friday that the agency is "a law enforcement agency, not a social services agency" after news reports revealed that many children of suspects detained this week were left homeless in the immediate aftermath of the raid, though local media reports indicate that all are now staying with family members.

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Still, the official added, the agency took precautions to prevent instances of children being left without legal guardians as much as possible.

The remarks follow comments made by ICE acting Director Matthew Albence to The Washington Post, who said that the raid was conducted in a "textbook" manner.

"This was a textbook operation, carried out in a safe manner, and done securely,” Albence said. “Officers were able to execute these warrants in a safe fashion.”

One ICE official in charge of the agency's New Orleans field office, which led the raids, admitted however that the agency could not guarantee that children would not be left homeless by its law enforcement efforts.

“To be able to tell you, absolutely, there is no single parent, with no one to take care of [a child], I don’t think I can say that,” Jerome Miles told The Washington Post.

The raids have been sharply criticized by activists who argued that the arrest of hundreds of people disrupted the local economy and jeopardized many families.

The Trump administration faced criticism both for its treatment of suspected undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers as well as the president's own rhetoric aimed at immigrant and minority communities.

“We are deeply concerned that the raids have separated Mississippians’ families, disrupted our local economy, and diverted our state’s limited resources to support Trump’s mass deportation agenda,” ACLU of Mississippi legal director and interim executive director Joshua Tom said in a statement.

“Local law enforcement should refuse to cooperate with the president’s anti-immigrant policies. We stand in solidarity and are committed to help the families harmed,” he added.