Trump immigration officials go on media offensive

Trump immigration officials go on media offensive
© Aaron Schwartz

The country's top immigration officials are on a media blitz this week, hitting back at critics of President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE’s policies.

From announcing the new “public charge” rule to defending Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, administration officials have put themselves in front of TV cameras in the White House briefing room, on the Sunday talk shows and on prime-time news programs.

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Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence on Tuesday became the latest Trump official to publicly defend the administration’s policies, telling "NBC Nightly News" in an interview that parents are to blame when their children are stranded during immigration raids.

“The parents or the individuals that are breaking the law are ultimately the ones that are responsible for placing their children in this situation," Albence said in an interview slated to air Tuesday evening.

Albence was interviewed by NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez about the massive ICE raids at poultry plants in Mississippi last week, when more than 680 people were taken into custody. Around 300 detainees were released Thursday, and officials said detainees with no criminal record and dependent care needs were prioritized for release.

But children of detainees were stranded at schools and day care facilities, or came home to empty houses on the day of the raids, according to multiple reports.

Gutierrez asked Albence what he would say to the little girl who was seen on video crying for her father after the raids.

“I don't think I would speak to the little girl," said Albence. "I would speak to the parents and I would speak to the community at large. Look, I'm a parent, most of our officers and agents are parents — some of the most difficult things that we have to do in our jobs to enforce the laws involve the separation of parents from children."

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that the girl in the video was "upset and I get that. But her father committed a crime."

The raids in Mississippi came less than a week after 22 people died in a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where the gunman was allegedly targeting "Mexicans."

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said Sunday on NBC’s "Meet the Press" that the timing of the raids was "unfortunate," as the country mourned the dead in El Paso and a second mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

But McAleenan said the raids were scheduled long before the shootings.

"Something like this has been planned for over a year. This is a criminal investigation with 14 federal warrants issued by a judge and ICE had to follow through on that. It was already planned and in motion," said McAleenan.

A day after the remarks by Morgan and McAleenan, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting Director Ken Cuccinelli announced from the White House briefing room another Trump administration immigration initiative, known as the “public charge” rule.

The change, slated to take effect in two months, would dramatically increase the government's ability to reject green cards for people who are deemed likely to depend on government aid such as food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid.

Cuccinelli later proposed a rewording of the inscription under the Statue of Liberty in defense of the new rule.

"Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge," Cuccinelli said in an NPR interview, in reference to the Emma Lazarus poem on the statue that does not include a reference to "public charge."