By Connor Wolf, LifeZette
Sen. Dick Durbin called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees “a bunch of incompetents” on Saturday, but his spokesman refused to clarify on Monday whether the Illinois Democrat was referring to specific ICE employees or all 20,000 of the agency’s workers.
“Look at these families on the hottest day of the year in Chicago, bringing their kids out here and marching for other families,” Durbin said Saturday during one of the protests across the country against ICE and President Donald Trump.
“Look at ICE, what a group of incompetents. At this point, they’re focused more on toddlers than terrorists. They want to, instead of deporting felons, they’re deporting families that are being persecuted by criminal gangs,” Durbin said. He was being interviewed on CNN.
Ben Marter, Durbin’s spokesman, told LifeZette that the senator “was referring to a briefing he had just received in which ICE didn’t know how many children they have in their custody.” But Marter did not respond when asked if Durbin was referring to all ICE workers or only those directly involved in the briefing.
Trump has faced intense backlash from Democrats and left-wing activists for his decision to enforce anti-illegal immigration laws, including jailing illegal adults and separating them from children they brought with them across the border.
Trump modified his original decision June 20 and instructed officials with ICE and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to keep adults and children together pending resolution of their legal status.
The estimated 2,499 children separated since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the strict enforcement May 7 are now being reunited with their accompanying adult, according to HHS.
Trump argued he was simply telling ICE to enforce existing laws and that lax enforcement by his predecessor, President Barack Obama, encouraged illegal immigrants to bring children with them, knowing that asking for asylum meant they couldn’t be held for more than 20 days.
Sessions said immigrants seeking asylum can keep their families intact by entering the U.S. through one of the dozens of legal ports of entry instead of crossing the border illegally. But critics counter the approach is inhumane.
Officials with HHS have cited a 1997 court settlement that put the 20-day restriction on immigration officials. Under Obama, arrested illegals were given court dates and released on promise of returning to face a judge. Only a small minority of those given dates returned as promised.
This article was used with permission from LifeZette.
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