Apparently, President Trump’s pick to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a superpower: He says he can instantly tell which migrant youths are destined to become gang members, just by looking into their eyes.
Mark Morgan, who previously had a brief stint as the chief of Border Patrol, made the comments — which just resurfaced — in a January interview on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show.
“I’ve been to the detention facilities where I’ve walked up to these individuals that are so-called ‘minors,’ 17 or under,” Morgan said. “And I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes, Tucker, and I said, ‘That is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member.’ It’s unequivocal.”
The claim from Morgan resurfaced Thursday in a piece by the Huffington Post that examined his myriad media appearances touting Trump’s hard-line immigration stances. He was especially popular with Fox News, which played up the fact that Morgan headed up Border Patrol under Obama and was asked to resign when Trump took office. Morgan’s comments about children led to outrage.
“Members of this administration are now comfortable providing explicitly racist comments to give their boss what he wants to hear,” tweeted Democratic California Rep. Linda Sánchez. “Mark Morgan’s despicable comments should disqualify him from being the director of ICE.”
Her colleague Rep. Ted Lieu, also a California Democrat, called out Morgan by name and said: “I'm looking at your eyes in the picture and I see some bigotry, a grandiose sense of having fake predictive powers, and a lot of bull manure. It's unequivocal.”
Despite Morgan’s claim that he can divine if a child will grow to be violent by looking into their eyes, studies have shown immigrants, both legal and undocumented, are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the U.S. A new analysis published by The Marshall Project on Monday found there is no connection between undocumented immigration and crime.
Originating in Los Angeles, MS-13 is a large, violent gang but has become a shorthand way for Trump and others to warn that migrants, many of whom are seeking respite from violence, will bring violence to the U.S.
Trump tweeted on May 5 that he would nominate Morgan for the ICE job, saying he was a “true believer and American Patriot.” The White House has yet to issue a formal press release on Morgan’s nomination, and a confirmation hearing hasn’t been scheduled. In early April the president killed the nomination of his previous pick, Ronald Vitiello, saying he wanted to go in a “tougher” direction. It has since been reported that Vitiello and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed back against a secret plan to arrest thousands of migrants with mass raids targeting families in 10 major American cities.
Morgan might represent the “tougher” direction Trump wants go. The president himself has criticized migrant children, saying at a May 2018 event that the minors abuse loopholes in immigration laws.
“They look so innocent,” he said. “They’re not innocent.”
Cover: In a Thursday, April 4, 2019 file photo, former U.S. Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump is tapping former border patrol chief Morgan to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)