MADISON, Ga.—Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff said that federal agents should be deployed to ensure that illegal immigrants receive good wages instead of enforcing federal immigration law.
A resident asked Ossoff how he would deal with people who were illegally brought to the United States as minors. The Democrat went on to chastise the "brutal conditions" facing workers on Georgia farms, arguing that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents should be used not to detain illegal immigrants but rather to verify that such workers are treated well.
"When federal agents arrive at one of these farms, it should be to make sure people are being paid the minimum wage, working in humane conditions," Ossoff said at the Sunday event, adding that the U.S. should "show humanity and compassion for those who are part of our society but living in the shadows."
Ossoff's comments came months after the Democrat indicated his support for so-called sanctuary cities, stating that local law enforcement should not enforce federal immigration law because it undermines the "bonds of trust between local law enforcement and local communities." Ossoff has also praised House speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D., Calif.) $3 trillion HEROES Act, which includes unemployment payments for illegal immigrants.
Center for Immigration Studies policy director Jessica Vaughan told the Washington Free Beacon that Ossoff's "plan" reflects "little knowledge about illegal immigration or immigration enforcement."
"What I find troubling about that comment is that it indicates that [Ossoff] wants ICE to enforce wage and hour laws and other labor laws, which is not their job," Vaughan said. "That suggests that he does not want ICE to enforce immigration laws, and worksite enforcement is the type of immigration enforcement that does the most to deter illegal immigration. It's very effective, and we need to have more of it, not less of it."
The Ossoff campaign did not return a request for comment.
In addition to his past comments calling on local police to cease cooperating with federal agents against illegal immigration, Ossoff recently campaigned with former Obama administration official Julián Castro, who has faced criticism from fellow Democrats over his support for "open borders." Castro centered his failed presidential campaign on decriminalizing illegal border crossings and supported government-provided health insurance for illegal immigrants.
"This is tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders," former Obama DHS chief Jeh Johnson said of Castro's plan. "That is unworkable, unwise, and does not have the support of a majority of American people or the Congress."
Ossoff is running to unseat Republican senator David Perdue in Georgia's January 5 runoff election. Perdue has criticized the Democrat for supporting "lawless sanctuary cities."