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ICE boss: Employee morale suffers because of political vitriol

Ronald Vitiello, the nominee to become assistant secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, appears for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

Ronald Vitiello, the nominee to become assistant secretary of Homeland Security for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, appears for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. | AP Photo

WASHINGTON — The acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the morale of his agency’s employees suffers because of the bitter political climate.

But Ron Vitiello is also apologizing for sending a Tweet that said the Democratic party should be renamed the “NeoKlanist” party.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is hearing testimony on whether to confirm Vitiello as head of an agency that some Democrats want to abolish.

Vitiello says ICE employees are threatened with violence or targeted at their homes. He says they are public servants and don’t deserve such treatment.

The agency makes arrests of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally and has become a symbol of President Donald Trump’s hard-line policies.

Senators questioned Vitiello about the policy of separating migrant families over the summer.