Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Thomas Homan argued on Thursday that a crying child’s father should be blamed, not ICE agents, after the immigrant parent was detained in a sweeping raid this week in Mississippi.
During a segment of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, co-host Sandra Smith asked Homan to respond to a widely circulated video of 11-year-old Magdalena Gomez Gregorio weeping and asking for her father to be released. “How do you respond to the little girl we just heard from?” Smith asked Homan. “It pulls at your heartstrings when you hear that.”
Although Homan briskly admitted that “it does” tug on people’s emotions, he quickly shifted the blame to Gomez Gregorio’s parent.
“Immigration enforcement is always controversial and emotional, but you know what? The blame needs to be placed on the father,” he said. “Her father came to this country illegally, he brought his child here illegally. Whether or not she was born here, he put his family in the position of being here illegally in violation of our laws,” the former ICE official continued.
“He should have took better action to protect his family,” Homan said.
In the emotional clip, the young girl can be seen with tears in her eyes, crying for her father to be freed. Some of what the girl says is difficult to understand as she is choked up by emotion, but she can be heard saying: “I want my dad to be free and everybody else.”
“A lot of children is crying ….” she added through her sobs.
The ICE raids that led to the arrest of Gomez Gregorio’s father have been described as “record-setting,” with 680 individuals, who are believed to be undocumented, arrested across Mississippi. Friends, family members, neighbors and in some cases, strangers, have stepped in to take care of many children in the state who have been left without their parents to care for them.
Some of the children were taken to a local gym, where they were given temporary food and shelter. “I understand the law and how everything works and how everything has a system. But everyone needs to hold the kids first and foremost in their minds,” gym owner Jordan Barnes told WJTV. “And that’s what we’ve tried to do here, just give them a place to stay.”
Although Homan and the Trump administration have argued that ICE is focusing on arresting undocumented migrants with criminal records, locals in Mississippi told WJTV that many of those detained had never done anything wrong.
“Their mom’s been here for 15 years and she has no record,” Christina Peralta told the local news station, about a detained parent of her godchildren. “A lot of people here have no record they’ve been here for 10-12 years.”
Critics of the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies also slammed ICE and the president for carrying out the large scale raid just days after a mass shooting in El Paso left 22 dead. Investigators believe that attack was a racially motivated hate crime specifically targeting Hispanic immigrants.
“Only days after a massacre committed with the express purpose of targeting immigrants, Trump conducted the largest raid of his presidency,” 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, a former congressman from Texas, posted to Twitter. “680 human beings arrested, including the mother of a 13-year-old, who waved goodbye as she was taken from him. The cruelty knows no bounds.”
In another tweet, O’Rourke pointed to the impact on children of detained immigrants.
“These children will go to sleep tonight with no idea when, or if, they’ll see their parents again,” he wrote. “This is being done in our name — and it’s on all of us to end it.”
*see full story by NewsWeek