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Trump has hand picked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting director Ronald Vitiello’s to become the permanent director of ICE. His nomination comes after months of Vitiello’s unwavering allegiance to Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda.
While Vitiello’s backers are trying to improve the prospects of his nomination by portraying him, as the New York Times characterizes, as a “quiet and thoughtful leader willing to engage with people who have opposing opinions,” it’s impossible to square that depiction with the fact that he was one of the implementers, enablers, and defenders of the family separation policy – as he’s been ICE acting director since June 2018. Vitiello also minimized the horrors of family separation, purporting that “only 2,500 people were affected by that situation.”
Additionally, Vitiello once called Democrats the “NeoKlanist Party” and participated in an event hosted by FAIR, a designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. On the show, Vitiello defended the policy of separating families at the border and racistly characterized immigrants as the bearers of crime and disease. FAIR is an anti-immigrant hate group that was founded by white nationalist John Tanton, who helped create a network of anti-immigrant organizations — many of which are also hate groups. For this year’s “Hold Their Feet to the Fire”, an annual event, FAIR brought in anti-immigrant activists and far-right talk radio hosts from across the country to amplify their anti-immigrant messages. The conference also attracted a number of extremist elected and appointed officials.
According to Pili Tobar, Managing Director of America’s Voice:
Anyone who implemented and defended the Trump family separation policy should be permanently disqualified from a leadership position in our federal government. It’s a moral stain that will never and should never go away and it must result in the scuttling of Ronald Vitiello’s nomination to head ICE. At a time when the American people have spoken up and voted out many defenders and facilitators of Trump’s ugliness on immigrants, the Senate should not advance the nomination of another defender and hater into a leadership position.