Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn also claimed immigrants were 'drunks' who will 'run over your children.'
A Texas sheriff invited to the White House to speak on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) argued Thursday that the agency is "standing on the wall between good and evil" and suggested immigrants were "drunks" who hurt children.
Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn was brought in for a press briefing with ICE acting director Matthew T. Albence, who repeatedly slammed federal judges for condemning the agency's behavior in targeting migrant families.
Waybourn was on hand to amplify Albence's message, part of the Trump administration's broader anti-immigrant rhetoric.
"The narrative of trying to go after ICE and immigrations [sic] is very much like the narrative that was used against our Vietnam returning soldiers," Waybourn said. "They're eviscerating honorable people doing noble things, standing on the wall between good and evil for you and me."
Waybourn also disparaged migrants themselves, saying, "These drunks will run over your children, and they will run over my children."
He did acknowledge that "many of these migrants" were simply "looking for a better day, for something better for their family," before doubling down and saying that many undocumented individuals in his county's jails were "repeat offenders."
In recent years, most notably under Donald Trump's leadership, ICE has embraced a harsh and derogatory posture toward migrants, while also ensnaring innocent people in their operations.
Between 2017 and 2019, ICE sent 420 detainer requests to jails in Florida's Miami-Dade County, 83 of whom were later identified as U.S. citizens. According to the ACLU of Florida, those faulty requests were eventually cancelled.
In July, the Washington Post reported that Francisco Erwin Galicia, an 18-year-old high school student and U.S. citizen, had been detained in federal immigration custody — first in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility and then an ICE detention center — for a month. During that time Galicia lost 26 pounds because he was not given enough food, he said. He also claimed he was not allowed to shower.
The agency's behavior has driven some citizens to carry their passports with them at all times, in case they're asked to prove their status.
Trump's own anti-immigrant rhetoric has also trickled down to ICE agents tasked with enforcement.
In July, a trove of emails between ICE officials revealed disparaging messages, including comments like "Happy hunting and target building," a response to planned immigration raids across the country.
The Daily Beast reported that messages soliciting volunteers for those raids were "frequently jovial in tone," as were the responses.
Trump has sought to use a "get tough" approach on immigrants to rally political support for himself and the Republican Party. GOP candidates used similar messaging in the disastrous 2018 midterms.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.