Atlanta, Georgia - Vice President Pence to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Employees:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Special Agent Annan. Thank you for making us so welcome here at Homeland Security Investigations. It is an honor to be with you all. To Governor Kemp, Senator Perdue, Congressman Collins, Director Gallagher, I’m here on behalf of the President of the United States to say to the men and women of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement here in Atlanta, Georgia: We are grateful for you, we are standing with you, and we will keep standing with you as you enforce our laws and keep our communities safe. (Applause.)
It’s remarkable to think that this month marks 16 years since Immigrations and Customs and Enforcement was created. And every single day since then, the men and women across this country — 20,000 American patriots, a part of this agency — have been enforcing our laws and making America safe.
And I want to commend each and every one of you for being a part of that incredible tradition. And it’s a remarkable contribution worth dwelling on.
In a time when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has come under criticism by some politicians, not only here in Georgia but across the country, where it’s become fashionable to be critical of the men and women of ICE, it’s important to remember what this agency accomplishes every day for the American people.
In 2018 alone, ICE agents and officers made more than 34,000 criminal arrests of illegal immigrants in this country. Together, removing 3,635 gang members from our streets, over 900 criminals affiliated with MS-13. You seized nearly 10,000 pounds of opioids, 2,700 pounds of fentanyl, and you rescued more than 300 victims of human trafficking, including 800 children who were victims of exploitation. That is a record of remarkable success, and the American people are grateful to the men and women of ICE. (Applause.)
And here in Georgia, the Atlanta Field Office is, frankly, and sadly, it is one of the busiest offices in the country. Here at Homeland Security Investigations, across a three-state region, you face the challenges that come with being in a city and being in a region that is a critical transit point in the life of this nation.
I don’t have to tell any of the ICE agents gathered here that we have a crisis on our southern border. But that crisis on our southern border is driving drugs and crime and human trafficking here in the streets of Atlanta. You face it and you confront it every day. And you face it oftentimes without regard to your personal safety. You enforce our laws and you make the streets of Atlanta, the streets of Georgia, safer. And you have our thanks.
It’s remarkable to think that, over the last two years, without any additional personnel, this Atlanta office actually removed nearly 14,000 illegal immigrants from this country. And I understand, Sean, that just yesterday, in Riverdale, Georgia, this Atlanta office arrested a Mexican national who is a subject of an Interpol Red Notice from Mexico on murder charges. Atlanta and Georgia are safer today because of the outstanding work of the men and women of ICE in Georgia. (Applause.)
But not to be outdone, Atlanta’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations has truly a remarkable record of success. Fifth in every category across the country of arrests, indictments, convictions, and seizures.
In the last year alone — and I just learned this from Nick — 2,000 criminal arrests last year, 7,000 pounds of narcotics. And in 2016, it was this office, in cooperation with all of the men and women in this room — and some extraordinary law enforcement work at the state and local level — Homeland Security Investigation indicted over 40 individuals, freed 50 young women exploited, in what was the largest sex trafficking ring in ICE history. That is an extraordinary contribution to the safety and security of this state and of this nation. And you have our thanks. (Applause.)
But it’s not just statistics; it’s the men and women of ICE. And I want you to know I’ve taken some time on my way down to reflect on some of the stories of each and every one of you.
Scott Sutton. Is Scott here in the room? I hope he is. Scott. Scott is a Deportation Officer and the Team Leader of the Atlanta Special Response Team. Works alongside the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute criminal illegal aliens, individuals who have violated federal criminal law.
I’m told that, earlier this month, Scott led the effort in concert, Governor, with Georgia State Troopers to find and arrest an illegal alien who had escaped from a detention facility on the previous night. Scott, Georgia is safer, America is safer, because you are doing your job with such great effectiveness. Thank you very much. Great job. (Applause.)
And it’s not just being — it’s not just being out front in law enforcement. It’s also — it’s also demonstrating the extraordinary compassion that each one of you shows, enforcing the law and understanding that this crisis on our southern border is harming vulnerable populations on both sides of the border.
And I want to single out — in particular, I want to single out an agent of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement who is with us today. I just met her a moment ago, and I asked her how many languages she actually speaks. She told me that she actually — where is she now? Can you introduce her to me, Nick?
AGENT ANNAN: Alia El-Sawi.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Alia El-Sawi. Where are you, Alia?
AGENT ANNAN: There she is.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Let’s give Alia a round of applause. She’s doing an amazing job. (Applause.)
And one of the elements of the crisis on our southern border is that, for the first time ever — for the first time ever, the majority of individuals crossing our border illegally are families and unaccompanied minors. They’re being driven by human traffickers and drug cartels that are exploiting vulnerable populations and enticing them to take the long and dangerous journey north to our border.
It’s driving human trafficking all across this country. And Alia has done a remarkable job to reach out, to come alongside — to come alongside young people that have been exploited in this human trafficking that the drug cartels are driving. And you’re doing it with compassion. You’re doing it with care. You’re doing it with the heart of the people of Georgia and the American people. And you have our thanks, Alia. Great job. (Applause.)
But I want you to know, as you do your work, President Trump and I have your back. It’s one of the reasons why this President stood so strong over the month of January to make sure that we got the resources that we need to secure our border — $23 billion for border security, additional personnel, additional resources, and resources to construct a border wall.
And the President declared a national emergency to make even more resources available. I don’t have to tell all of you that walls work. And we’re going to build that wall. We’re going to secure our border. And we’re going to continue to support the men and women of ICE here in Georgia and all across the country as we do it. (Applause.)
Now, I know you’ve got a hard job. And unfortunately, with the debate in the public square today, sometimes it gets harder. I heard on my way down here that the mayor of Atlanta recently announced that the city government wouldn’t cooperate with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement when it comes to the detention of criminal illegal aliens in this city.
And I — it is amazing to think — the mayor actually said that she would, in her words, “not be complicit in an immigration policy that intentionally inflicts misery.” Well, I would say to the mayor that criminal illegal immigrants, gang members on our streets, are what inflict misery.
The flow of illegal drugs, like cocaine and meth and fentanyl, inflict misery and wreck our families and communities. Human trafficking inflicts misery. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the men and women who enforce our laws do not inflict misery. They bring safety and security to the people of Atlanta, and they deserve the respect of every elected official in this country. (Applause.)
So thank you all for coming out today. You know, the Bible says, “If you owe debts, pay debts. If honor, then honor. If respect, then respect.” And I just wanted to stop by today on behalf of President Donald Trump and our entire administration just to pay a debt of gratitude to each and every one of you.
You’re doing a hard job. And these days it can be a little bit harder because of the criticism that’s coming in. But I got to tell you, the work this office is doing is truly inspiring. And I know the people of Atlanta, the people of Georgia, and people all across this country are grateful every day.
Whatever you might hear in the political debate now or in the days ahead, just be assured the American people are with you and we’re with you. They understand, just like this President understands, that the work you do every day makes America safer, makes our communities safer, and ultimately contributes to the strength and the prosperity of our nation as we uphold the rule of law.
So today, whatever you might hear in the public debate, let me say to all of you who are here and all those colleagues that are looking on: Be assured the American people are with you. And with President Donald Trump in the White House, we will always have your back, and we will always stand with the courageous men and women of ICE, so help us God.
Thank you very much for your service. (Applause.) God bless you. And keep up the great work. All right?