Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Matthew Albence responded on Tuesday to a viral video of an 11-year-old girl tearfully begging for her dad’s release from ICE custody by blaming the father.
In a clip of a pre-taped interview released on Tuesday, NBC News reporter Gabe Gutierrez showed the video of Magdalena Gomez Gregorio to Albence, who didn’t look at the screen until the end.
“What would you tell that little girl?” Gutierrez asked.
“I don’t think I would speak to the little girl,” Albence replied. “I would speak to the parents and I would speak to the community at large.”
“The parents or the individuals that are breaking the law are ultimately the ones that are responsible for placing their children in this situation,” he said.
Gomez Gregorio’s father was one of the 680 suspected undocumented immigrants who was arrested during ICE’s sweeping raids in Mississippi last week.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do right now. I need my dad for me,” the girl sobbed after her father was jailed. “My dad didn’t do nothing, he’s not a criminal.”
“Let my parent be free and everyone else,” she pleaded.
The acting ICE chief claimed on Tuesday his agency conducts its operations “with professionalism, with compassion and with humanity” and that “we try our best to minimize the impact on the innocent people of the situation.”
“However, we have to enforce the law, every law agency enforces the law against the individuals who have broken it,” he added.
The full interview will air on NBC Wednesday evening.