The Trump administration was planning a mass raid on undocumented families in ten major American cities earlier this year, according to the Washington Post. Former Department of Homeland Security leader Kirstjen Nielsen and former immigration official Ronald Vitiello pushed back on the idea as impractical, and were subsequently ousted from the administration.
The information about the proposed plan comes from seven current and former DHS officials. The administration apparently wanted to show migrants that their presence in the U.S. was still unwanted after the family separation policy was shut down due to public pressure.
From the Post:
The ultimate purpose [of the proposed raid], the officials said, was a show of force to send the message that the United States was going to get tough by swiftly moving to detain and deport recent immigrants — including families with children.
The sprawling operation included an effort to fast-track immigration court cases, allowing the government to obtain deportation orders against those who did not show for their hearings — officials said 90 percent of those targeted were found deportable in their absence. The subsequent arrests would have required coordinated raids against parents with children in their homes and neighborhoods.
Nielsen and Vitiello apparently disagreed with this strategy, perhaps because as veterans of the disastrous family separation policy, they knew it would result in another round of public outrage. They also warned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn’t have the resources for such a mass raid.
Of course, Trump’s resident white nationalist Stephen Miller was one of the biggest proponents of the plan, along with ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence. The two were “eager to execute dramatic, highly visible mass arrests that they argued would help deter the soaring influx of families,” according to the Post.
It seems the raids would have targeted many American cities that are destinations for undocumented migrants who join family members in the U.S.
From the Post:
The arrests were planned for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and the other largest U.S. destinations for Central American migrants. Though some of the cities are considered “sanctuary” jurisdictions with police departments that do not cooperate with ICE, the plan did not single out those locations, officials said.
ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations branch had an initial target list of 2,500 adults and children, but the plan, which remains under consideration, was viewed as a first step toward arresting as many as 10,000 migrants. The vast majority of families who have crossed the border in the past 18 months seeking asylum remain in the country, awaiting a court date or in defiance of deportation orders.
But lest you think that Nielsen and Vitiello were at all concerned about the ethics of conducting what would amount to an ethnic cleansing of migrants within the U.S., DHS officials reassured the Post that they were actually just worried about the logistics.
“There was concern that it was being hastily put together, would be ineffective and might actually backfire by misdirecting resources away from critical border emergency response operations,” one DHS official told the Post.
“The proposal was nowhere near ready for prime time,” the official continued. “They wanted 10 cities, thousands of targets.”
ICE and DHS declined requests to comment. Nielsen and Vitiello didn’t respond to requests for comment. Miller declined the Post’s request for comment.
Immigrant advocates were, unsurprisingly, horrified to learn of the proposal.
“The level of depravity in terms of this administration has no bounds. It’s just insane,” Melissa Mark-Viverito, president of the Latino Victory Project and former New York City Council Speaker, told the Post. “It’s inhumane. There is no sense of the understanding what the implications are for the greater society. There is no consideration that these families are making positive economic contributions to these cities. It is about fearmongering to the nth degree.”
Read the rest of the story over at the Post.