AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Deputy Director Matt Albence traveled to Colorado to boost the morale of ICE agents.

CBS4’s Shaun Boyd interviews Matt Albence. (credit: CBS)

His visit comes a week after protesters stormed the ICE detention facility in Aurora and replaced the American flag with the Mexican one. Albence called it “despicable” saying the agents are simply doing their jobs.

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“We’re executing the same laws today as we were back in 1996 and it’s unfortunate that individuals that don’t agree with the laws are protesting our personnel. If they don’t like the laws, go to their congressman, go to their senator, go to Capitol Hill. I’ve been in that facility. It’s a humane facility. The individuals are kept in a humane environment. It’s safe. It’s  clean. It’s sanitary,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

In an exclusive TV interview with CBS4 Political Reporter Shaun Boyd, Albence said the border crisis is impacting cities across the country, including Aurora. He says more than 800,000 people have entered the country illegally this year alone and ICE has run out of space for them at the border and is shipping them to detention facilities like the privately operated one in Aurora while they await court hearings. Albence says Congress — not ICE — chose to move toward private detention facilities.

He also pushed back on reports of raids in cities like Denver last weekend.

“To me that’s a loaded word. It sets up there’s some sort-of indiscriminate enforcement actions.”

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He says the enforcement was aimed at people who were released while their asylum cases were pending, didn’t show for court and had a warrant out for their arrest.

“No other law enforcement agency in the country is being asked to ignore lawfully issued warrants except for this one,” he said.

Albence says the crush of people at the border and a lack of resources from Congress are putting public safety at risk. He says he’s had to divert agents from going after violent criminals in the country illegally and he called the push by some Democratic presidential candidates to decriminalize border crossings “insane.”

“If you think we have a surge at the border now,” he says, “wait until you see what happens if they decriminalize it.”

ICE hasn’t said how many people being housed in Aurora are accused of crimes and how many are seeking asylum. Rep. Jason Crow, a Democrat who represents Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, says 800 of the 1300 individuals there are refugees.

Shaun Boyd