Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Ron Vitiello defended the agency Thursday from critics calling to eliminate it or to prosecute its agents, saying the federal organization is vital for the nation’s security.
“The men and women of ICE get up every day and go out to protect their communities,” Vitiello told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “These men and women are out there protecting America each and every day, improving immigration enforcement, investigating antidumping and countervailing duties, protecting the economic security of America by taking intellectual property right cases to court. These people are Americans, and they’re predicting America each and every day.”
A New York attorney general candidate, Zephyr Teachout, has claimed if she is elected, she will “prosecute” the agency, and claims it has “become a tool of fear and illegality,” in a video for Now This News.
Much of the frustration has come from the zero tolerance policy that separated children from their families at the Mexican border, but Vitiello defended ICE as “following the law.”
“I spent many months before the last proposition was passed with Congress with my colleagues . . . going up to the Hill and asking for relief against this Flores settlement, closing the loopholes,” Vitello said. “We saw the administration ask for the closing of these loopholes and additional authorities so that we can enforce the border and secure the country better.”
Teachout has claimed ICE was born in the “xenophobia in the time after the 9/11 attacks and has grown up to become a tool of fear and illegality,” and she will continue to speak out against its activities.
“It’s sad,” Vitiello said in response. “ICE was designed in the aftermath of 9/11 to protect us all. That’s what the agents and the officers of ICE and our attorneys and our mission support people do. They’re out there everyday protecting this country.”
Vitiello said ICE wants to continue to protect the United States.
“We want to take advantage of the support that we’re getting from this administration to improve the work that we do, to add authorities, to secure the border, and to improve immigration enforcement so that we can have a safer community,” Vitiello said. “Homeland security, border security, immigration enforcement, that’s what we do at ICE.”
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