The atrocities of the Trump era come so fast and furious that it’s easy to be overwhelmed and not fully ponder the implications of one event before the next outrage appears.
With the mass shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton in the past few weeks, the ICE raids on Mississippi meat processing plants haven’t gotten as much attention as they might have in a slower news cycle.
The raids which resulted in 680 workers being detained in a surprise crackdown on illegal immigrants working at the plants left distraught children without parents when they emerged from their first day of school — a fact emphasized by a widely circulated video clip of a hysterical young girl crying while decrying that her father was not a criminal.
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The targeting of undocumented workers on such a mass scale generated outrage at the expansion of Trump administration tactics beyond those immigrants with criminal records to otherwise law-abiding residents who were merely providing for their families while working at dirty, labor-intensive jobs that few American citizens were willing to do.
The fact that the workers were arrested while their employers who illegally employed workers using fake social security numbers and documentation went unpunished raised questions about selective enforcement of immigration laws and gave many people the impression that the wealthy factory owners — who in this case included the major conservative Republican donors the Koch brothers — operate under a separate justice system than ordinary people in this country must be subject to.
The unfairness of such selective application of the laws of the land was on Jake Tapper’s mind as he questioned Acting Customs and Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan on CNN‘s State of the Union this morning (clip below).
After playing the video of the young girl crying for her detained parent, Tapper asked Morgan whether it was important to hold businesses responsible for the hiring of undocumented workers as well as targeting the workers themselves.
Morgan took umbrage at the question, initially dodging it, complaining that ICE was being criticized both for enforcing the law and then for not doing enough to enforce it.
When pressed further by Tapper, Morgan tried to assert that they were indeed going after businesses by targeting their workers and disrupting their operations and that they were now being investigated — a claim that Morgan makes despite the fact that no charges have been filed against a single company for employing undocumented workers illegally during the last year by the Trump administration.
Morgan then tried to accuse Tapper of showing the video of the sobbing daughter of a detained worker to tug on the heartstrings of the viewing audience while emphasizing yet again that the workers were here illegally, bolstering the argument of some Democratic presidential candidates for the decriminalization of immigration violations to a civil offense, so the very act of being undocumented doesn’t automatically result in a criminal record and require deportation.
Morgan cites the use of fake or stolen social security numbers by undocumented workers as another evidence of their criminal offenses. Yet, when one examines that “offense,” it’s difficult to find a victim. It simply means that the workers get social security taxes deducted from their already meager wages and never receive any benefits in return with that money used to fund the retirements of American citizens.
Tapper again tried to get Morgan to explain why, if the aim of the administration was the deterrence of undocumented workers, no companies have been prosecuted for violating the laws against employing them.
Again Morgan tried to steer the conversation back to the illegal status of the workers, assigning responsibility for the prosecution of employers to the Justice Department and referring to ongoing investigations. He also defended ICE’s attempts to ensure that anyone detained could contact their children to let them know that they had been detained as if that was a major concession to humane treatment.
Morgan’s words did little to convince the public that no separate standard exists for the employers who violate the law as opposed to the victimized workers who Morgan admitted are exploited by employers who use the threat of exposing workers undocumented status as a way of preventing complaints about poor working conditions, lack of benefits, and substandard wages.
The failure to go after employers of undocumented workers is particularly suspicious given the revelations this week that the president’s own company the Trump Organization has continued to hypocritically employ illegal workers without proper documentation despite having been caught red-handed doing the same thing last year.
You can watch Jake Tapper’s interview with Acting Customs and Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan in the video clip below.
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