President Trump said in a tweet Monday night that U.S. immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major U.S. cities. Trump vows mass immigration arrests, removals of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ starting next week:
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”
Trump and his senior immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, have been prodding Homeland Security officials to arrest and remove thousands of family members whose deportation orders were expedited by the Justice Department this year as part of a plan known as the “rocket docket.”
In April, acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen were ousted after they hesitated to go forward with the plan, expressing concerns about its preparation, effectiveness and the risk of public outrage from images of migrant children being taken into custody or separated from their families.
Vitiello was replaced at ICE by former FBI and Border Patrol official Mark Morgan, who had impressed the president with statements on cable television in favor of harsh immigration enforcement measures.
In his first two weeks on the job at ICE, Morgan has said publicly that he plans to beef up interior enforcement and go after families with deportation orders, insisting that the rulings must be carried out to uphold the integrity of the country’s legal system.
“Our next challenge is going to be interior enforcement,” Morgan told reporters June 4 in Washington. “We will be going after individuals who have gone through due process and who have received final orders of deportation.
“That will include families,” he said, adding that ICE agents will treat the parents and children they arrest “with compassion and humanity.”
New Mexico State University professor Neal Rosendorf … was stunned by what he saw—migrants who said they’d been held outdoors for weeks as temperatures rose to nearly 100 degrees.
Rosendorf described it as “a human dog pound”—one hundred to 150 men behind a chain-link fence, huddled beneath makeshift shelters made from mylar blankets and whatever other scraps they could find to shield themselves from the heat of the sun. “I was able to speak with detainees and take photos of them with their permission,” Rosendorf said in an email. “They told me they’ve been incarcerated outside for a month, that they haven’t washed or been able to change the clothes they were detained in the entire time, and that they’re being poorly fed and treated in general.”
U.S. officials with knowledge of the preparations have said in recent days that the operation was not imminent, and ICE officials said late Monday night that they were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter.
Executing a large-scale operation of the type under discussion requires hundreds — and perhaps thousands — of U.S. agents and supporting law enforcement personnel, as well as weeks of intelligence gathering and planning to verify addresses and locations of individuals targeted for arrest.
The president’s claim that ICE would be deporting “millions” also was at odds with the reality of the agency’s staffing and budgetary challenges. ICE arrests in the U.S. interior have been declining in recent months because so many agents are busy managing the record surge of migrant families across the southern border with Mexico.
The family arrest plan has been considered even more sensitive than a typical operation because children are involved, and Homeland Security officials retain significant concerns that families will be inadvertently separated by the operation, especially because parents in some households have deportation orders but their children — some of whom are U.S. citizens — might not. Should adults be arrested without their children because they are at school, day care, summer camp or a friend’s house, it is possible parents could be deported while their children are left behind.
Supporters of the plan, including Miller, Morgan and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence, have argued forcefully that a dramatic and highly publicized operation of this type will send a message to families that are in defiance of deportation orders and could act as a deterrent.
According to Homeland Security officials, nearly all unauthorized migrants who came to the United States in 2017 in family groups remain present in the country. Some of those families are awaiting adjudication of asylum claims, but administration officials say a growing number are skipping out on court hearings while hoping to live and work in the United States as long as possible.
Publicizing a future law enforcement operation is unheard of at ICE. Trump administration officials blasted Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf last year for warning immigrants about an impending raid, saying she endangered agents’ safety.
So is ICE going to “blast” their “Dear Leader” for tweeting about their plans for a mass deportation roundup, warning immigrants about an impending raid? Or does this racist imbecile get a pass?
“The Oakland mayor’s decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens — making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold,” then-ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan said at the time.
Homan later retired, but last week Trump said Homan would return to public service as his “border czar.” On Fox News, Homan later called that announcement “kind of premature” and said he had not decided whether to accept the job.
Schaaf responded late Monday to the president’s tweet teasing the looming ICE roundups.
“If you continue to threaten, target and terrorize families in my community . . . and if we receive credible information . . . you already know what our values are in Oakland — and we will unapologetically stand up for those values,” she wrote.
Trump’s tweet is really about rallying his MAGA base around white grievance, white privilege, and white nationalism as he kicks off his 2020 campaign. He is embracing the “Mass Deportation Party” label.
ICE does not have the manpower or capability of “removing millions of illegal aliens” as Trump and his racist MAGA base fantasize about. These racists dream of the image of the Bisbee deportation of striking mine workers in 1917: kidnapped, loaded onto boxcars, and deported.
UPDATE: I had forgotten about this. The Boston Globe’s ‘disturbing’ fake Trump front page from 2016 is proving increasingly prophetic:
In April 2016, the Boston Globe’s opinion section published a controversial satirical front page. The front page imagined what a real Globe front page might look like a year later if Donald Trump were elected president. Some thought it went too far and risked misleading people — Trump himself called it “stupid” — while others noted it hewed pretty closely to what Trump himself was talking about on the campaign trail.
A little more than three years later, the front page some labeled “disturbing” has proven pretty darn prescient.
The current headline atop The Washington Post’s homepage — “Trump vows mass immigration arrests, removals of ‘millions of illegal aliens’ starting next week” — is perhaps the closest manifestation to date of the “DEPORTATIONS TO BEGIN” banner headline on the Globe’s fake front page.
Aaron Blake then does an analysis of what the Globe’s fake front page got right by parallels to today.
The New York Times reports, ICE Signals Mass Immigration Arrests, but Not the ‘Millions’ Trump Promised:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement in recent days has bulked up the branch responsible for carrying out deportations in preparation for the mass arrests of undocumented immigrants, two Department of Homeland Security officials said on Tuesday, adding that the agency could not immediately deport “millions of illegal aliens” as President Trump had promised the night before.
Senior ICE officials, many of whom were blindsided by Mr. Trump’s tweet, have signaled for weeks that the agency would conduct raids targeting thousands of migrant families in homes and communities, something one of the homeland security officials confirmed on Tuesday was expected in the coming weeks.
ICE has requested that agents in Homeland Security Investigations — the branch of the agency that conducts long-term investigations into human trafficking and drug smuggling — assist Enforcement and Removal Operations, which deports undocumented immigrants, according to the two homeland security officials. They said the nationwide reallocation of resources was rare and a sign that ICE would soon conduct mass arrests.
On Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Trump repeated that immigration officials planned to conduct a deportation operation next week. “They know. They know,” Mr. Trump said as he left for Florida. “They’re going to start next week and when people come into our country and they come in illegally, they’ll have to go out.”
It was President Dwight D. Eisenhower who was responsible for The Largest Mass Deportation in American History:
Mexican immigrants were caught in the snare of Operation Wetback, the biggest mass deportation of undocumented workers in United States history. As many as 1.3 million people may have been swept up in the Eisenhower-era campaign with a racist name, which was designed to root out undocumented Mexicans from American society.
The short-lived operation used military-style tactics to remove Mexican immigrants—some of them American citizens—from the United States. Though millions of Mexicans had legally entered the country through joint immigration programs in the first half of the 20th century, Operation Wetback was designed to send them back to Mexico.
With the help of the Mexican government, which sought the return of Mexican nationals to alleviate a labor shortage, Border Patrol agents and local officials used military techniques and engaged in a coordinated, tactical operation to remove the immigrants.
Immigration laws prevent the Trump administration from immediately deporting asylum-seeking Central American families, who make up a majority of the migrants arrested at the border. The operation planned by ICE officials would instead target those in the interior of the country who have been issued a final removal order or missed their court date.
After the president spoke on Tuesday, Mark Morgan, the acting director of ICE, declined to say whether the agency was planning mass arrests next week.
* * *
A president releasing the timeline of such immigration raids would be unprecedented because it could spread panic in communities and potentially threaten the success of the raids. An operation targeting families also would not immediately result in the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, according to officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the details of the coming operation or Mr. Trump’s tweet.
While roughly a million undocumented immigrants have been issued removal orders, many of them may be appealing their cases and cannot be deported. The roughly 6,000 deportation officers in ICE also do not know the locations of many of the migrants.
* * *
Homeland security officials have changed their minds multiple times in recent days about when to begin the operation to target families, according to one of the homeland security officials. The agency has long been hesitant about such raids because of the bad optics they generate.
On Tuesday afternoon, ICE released a statement saying it was committed to enforcing immigration law, including “routine targeted enforcement operations, criminals, individuals subject to removal orders and work site enforcement.”
* * *
Widespread raids of families could provoke an outcry, much of it directed against the gun-wielding agents making the arrests. That has left homeland security’s leadership nervous about the potential consequences of the operation.
For Mr. Trump, the threat of imminent mass deportations is a stark reminder that he intends to seek re-election by doubling down on the central campaign theme that propelled him to the White House in 2016 — stoking fear of immigrants.
But Mr. Trump has largely failed to make good on his immigration promises. His demand for a wall along the southwestern border has been denied by Congress, and courts have blocked some of his more aggressive efforts to deny entry to migrants.
That has enraged Mr. Trump, who has at times come under fire from conservative activists and television hosts for not living up to his promises. His vaguely worded tweet on Monday night appeared to be intended to reassure his supporters that his plans for deporting undocumented immigrants are on track.