Alfonso Chardy, herald.com (Miami), Mar. 11
A federal immigration official who once referred to detained immigrants as ”scumbuckets” has been appointed to oversee the Miami office charged with detaining and deporting foreign nationals.
Mike Rozos’ selection to the high-ranking post was announced in an electronic message sent March 1 to employees of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
The text of the e-mail was provided to The Herald by someone with access to the message.
Rozos’ appointment will probably generate controversy because he returns after 14 years to a region where he was branded as anti-immigrant because of remarks he made as deputy administrator at the Krome detention center in West Miami-Dade County.
Alluding to allegations of mistreatment of detainees at Krome, Rozos was quoted in USA Today on June 14, 1991, as saying: “This is not the creme de la creme. You have got scumbuckets here.”
He was verbally reprimanded by the then-district director. No other disciplinary action was taken, and he continued his career in the federal immigration bureaucracy.
Rozos, in a telephone interview Wednesday, said he regretted the remark but noted that it was not properly framed in the USA Today article.
“To the best of my recollection, the discussion was primarily focused toward criminal aliens in Florida,” said Rozos, currently a high-ranking administrator at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “Unfortunately, I used the wrong word . . . I erred in my judgment.”
Cheryl Little, executive director of the Miami-based Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, which has monitored Krome for years, said she hoped Rozos has changed his attitude.
“In the past, he made some very derogatory remarks about detainees at Krome,” Little said. “Hopefully, he’s more open-minded these days. Someone in that position has to be sensitive to the needs of immigrants in his care rather than showing disdain.”
After Rozos’ comments were published, The Herald called for his dismissal in an editorial titled “Bucketful of Bigotry.”
’Lady Liberty shed a tear the other day when a Krome Avenue detention center official, in a USA Today interview, called some Krome detainees ‘scumbuckets,’” the editorial said. “Mike Rozos, a deputy administrator at the Immigration and Naturalization Service facility, ought to have his career put in a bucket for that slander.”
Rozos is currently deputy assistant director for removals at ICE but is on temporary detail in Atlanta as interim field office director.
Rozos is expected here in two to three months.