Matthew Albence, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), didn’t pull punches when asked if the agency would consider pausing its operations while the U.S. Census Bureau begins knocking on doors.
Albence appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on Wednesday to discuss ICE’s budget. Throughout the hearing, the acting director was pressed on a number of concerns from Democratic members, particularly concerning the agency’s role in apprehending and deporting illegal aliens.
At one point during Albence’s testimony, New York Democratic Rep. Grace Meng asked him if the agency would consider putting a hold on enforcement operations while U.S. Census Bureau employees engage the public in their task to count the U.S. population.
“Is there any possibility to consider halting raids and making any public statements … and halting them so that we can pause such enforcement efforts in our communities so that Census Bureau won’t be seen as coordinating with law enforcement,” Meng asked.
The New York lawmaker contended that “the average person” might not be able to tell the difference between an ICE agent and a Census employee walking door to door.
Albence, however, immediately shut down this narrative, and then issued a response that largely rebuked most defenses for sanctuary policies.
“First, our officers are clearly marked to define who they are,” he said, noting that other law enforcement officers, like the NYPD, wear identifying markers such as badges when they are out on the filed enforcing the law. “There should be no confusion with regard to who we are when we are doing an enforcement action.”
“I’m sure the Census individuals have Census IDs when they go up to a door, saying ‘this is a Census worker, this is who I am.’ So I don’t know where there should be any confusion with regard to what we’re going to do,” he continued.
Albence then made clear who would be left to roam freely in the community if ICE agents were to simply stop doing their job.
“When you look at the public safety threats, and the bad people that we are arresting, we’re certainly not in a position where I can say ‘we’re going to stop enforcing the immigration laws so that the Census can be done.’ That means that murders, rapists, human traffickers, and gang members alike are going to be able to walk with impunity among us,” he said.
“That’s our job to get them off the street and we do it everyday,” Albence said, adding that ICE arrests “thousands” of criminals every single week.
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