Trump's terrifying plan for mass arrests of thousands of migrants in multiple cities is moving forward over officials' objections: report

Trump's terrifying plan for mass arrests of thousands of migrants in multiple cities is moving forward over officials' objections: report
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is preparing to conduct mass arrests of migrants in as many as 10 American cities beginning on Sunday, the Washington Post reported Friday.


The administration had reportedly considered the proposal before, but officials' objections had stalled the plan. Even now, the Post reported, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has concerns about the operation. While the current plan will reportedly target as many as 2,000 immigrant families in the country, he has reportedly suggested a smaller scale effort that would only go after 150 families.

The report explained:

McAleenan has warned that an indiscriminate operation to arrest migrants in their homes and at work sites risks separating children from their parents in cases where the children are at day care, summer camp or friend’s houses and not present for the raids. He also has maintained that ICE should not devote major resources to carrying out a mass interior sweep while telling lawmakers it needs emergency funding to address the crisis at the U.S. border.

But President Donald Trump, in an apparent effort to please his base, has made clear that he wants to be seen as tough on immigrants. On Monday, he sent out a tweet saying the administration would soon "begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens." It's not close to feasible that Trump will be able to achieve that scale of arrests, of course, but part of the purpose seems to be to terrify the immigrant population, so exaggeration is a feature, not a bug. (The Post noted that officials were surprised Trump announced the plans on Twitter since such operations are not usually previewed.)

And while the operation — dubbed the 'Family Op' — ostensibly only targets undocumented immigrants, the reporting indicates it will including wide-reaching arrests, suggesting that some people not eligible for deportation could get erroneously detained:

ICE agents have limited intelligence on the locations of the families with court-ordered deportations beyond their last known addresses. But White House and ICE officials believe agents will be able to make many “collateral arrests” by vacuuming up foreigners living in the country illegally at or near the target locations.

Even if the operation goes off entirely as planned, however, it would constitute a devastating attack on immigrant communities, capriciously destroying families and traumatizing children.

The open animus behind the effort is glaring. Since there are millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, immigration enforcement is invariably about making decisions about which enforcement actions to prioritize. Under President Barack Obama, the administration moved toward focusing on deportations of immigrants who committed serious crimes.

By focusing instead on families, Trump reveals that "crime" isn't really what he cares about in immigration enforcement — even as he uses false suggestions of immigrant criminality to justify targeting immigrants in the first place. If the government actually cares about reducing crime, it can focus its limited resources on responding to actual crimes. If what it really cares about, though, is making the lives of immigrant families worse and pleasing racist voters, then the "Family Op" fits the bill.

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