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Mark Morgan, the White House choice to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said during a Fox News interview earlier this year that he can judge the likelihood that an unaccompanied minor will become a gang member by looking into that child’s eyes.
“I’ve been to detention facilities where I’ve walked up to these individuals that are so-called minors, 17 or under,” Morgan said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in January. “I’ve looked at them and I’ve looked at their eyes, Tucker — and I’ve said that is a soon-to-be MS-13 gang member. It’s unequivocal.”
The comment surfaced Thursday as part of a broader review of his Morgan’s public utterances by HuffPost. The outlet found Morgan notched nearly 100 television and radio appearances after a series of interviews with Tucker Carlson.
The view that unaccompanied minors are more likely to become criminals is unsupported by statistical evidence. Studies have shown immigrants legal and undocumented — are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.
Sanaa Abrar, advocacy director with the pro-migrant United We Dream, said Morgan’s remark reflects the Trump administration’s broader efforts to target immigrant youth.
“The hateful rhetoric, it hits close to home for many of our members,” she said. “We have members of our own community who have been racially profiled and detained as a result of this administration’s policies.”
Morgan could not immediately be reached for comment, and the White House and ICE did not respond to requests.
Morgan’s comment echoed statements by President Donald Trump. During an event last year in Long Island, N.Y., Trump said unaccompanied minors “look so innocent,” but aren’t in reality.
Trump tweeted earlier this month that Morgan would become his new nominee to lead ICE. The White House pulled the nomination of the president’s previous pick, Ronald Vitiello, during a broader Homeland Security Department leadership shakeup in April. Trump said at the time that he intended to go in a “tougher direction” with the ICE role.
The White House still has not issued a press release announcing Morgan’s nomination, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has not scheduled a confirmation hearing.
During testimony before the committee in April — prior to his nomination — Morgan argued that unaccompanied minors could be recruited by violent gangs.
“MS-13 is one of the most violent and prolific transnational gangs the U.S. [has] ever seen,” he said in prepared testimony. “And the influx of minors into the country through the current crisis will provide them with unlimited vulnerable prospects.”
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine