JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As a person, U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst understands the humanity of those affected by the ICE raids of last week.
“They’re children of God in my view, so we have to make sure and do everything we can to help them. And if they break the law, we’re going to enforce them, but that doesn’t mean we hate them or we’re mad at them somehow,” Hurst said.
As a father, it goes even deeper for him. But working in the world of law enforcement, it’s a familiar feeling of worry he’s felt for years for children of drug dealers, of gang members, of murderers, robbers and thieves.
“Look, as a father of six, I feel that concern about the children, but we need to be concerned about every child whose parent chooses to break our laws,” he said.
That’s the hitch, Hurst says. Each of those detained on Wednesday, and each of the companies that employed them, is accused of doing something against the law. Law enforcement doesn’t make the rules, he said, to those who threaten the lives and families of himself and others involved in the case.
“Folks have problems with our immigration laws,” he said. “But that’s for them to take up with congress. That’s not for taking up with law enforcement.”
In many cases, the undocumented immigrants involved in last week’s raids were allegedly working under the identities of real American citizens.
“Individuals know that in order to be hired, they have to get someone’s identity – real identity – in order to pass various checks,” he said.
Their employers know that, too, he said. And sometimes it’s the stolen identity issue that leads authorities to find employers who aren’t properly checking citizenship on their employees.
They’ll say, “Someone is using my identity in another state. They claim that I work here," Hurst said. "The IRS will send tax bills to individuals saying they had worked at a certain place at a certain time when they hadn’t. So we get these tips from all over the country and we investigate.”
And what about the employers? Where do they stand? Is it that they won’t be prosecuted?
"I think you can look at the record of our office and tell that’s not the case,” Hurst stated.