The government announced the results Tuesday of its much-Trumped attempt to sweep up more than 2,000 migrants it says had been ordered to leave the country, yet hadn’t left. Total detentions? Just 35 people, about half of whom were collateral arrests — people here illegally who were encountered by agents while they were looking for someone else.
That would be a success rate in the neighborhood of, statistically speaking, a flea’s eye.
Absurdly, Matthew Albence, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, sought to blame immigrant rights advocates and immigrant-friendly members of Congress for the rather anti-climactic results of what Albence said was part of its ongoing Operation Border Resolve.
“There were advocates, there were people in Congress sitting here giving instructions to people illegally in the country and telling them how to avoid detection,” Albence said. “There’s no way for us to quantify what impact that had, but you couldn’t turn on any TV station anywhere in this country for several weeks without this being one of the lead topics.”
And where exactly did the advocates and members of Congress get the information that a sweep was in the works?
Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
Trump later, and in typical grandiose fashion, announced the arrests would be delayed at the request of Democratic congressional leaders to give them time to work out a congressional fix. Of course, no one believed that would actually happen, since Trump and the Democrats have radically divergent views of what that fix might look like.
So the raids* were on for last weekend.
By then, there were few targets for ICE agents to find.
So what does all this mean? Trump once again preened for his base about how tough he is on illegal immigration, but wound up accomplishing little while his appointee blamed advocates and Democrats for the failure.
In the end, the nation gets political theater and more fear and divisions in immigrant communities. Meanwhile, there’s little progress on advancing a reasonable reformation of the immigration system in general and a resolution to the problem of tens of thousands of migrants — mostly families — arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border hoping for help as they flee life-threatening poverty and crime in Central America.
Now that’s leadership.
* Albence also lectured reporters after one referred to the sweep as “raids.”
“Taking a targeted enforcement action against a specific individual who is in violation of the law and has a warrant issued by an immigration judge is not a raid,” Albence said testily during the phone conference. “A raid brings all sorts of emotions that conjure images of indiscriminate enforcement actions. That is not what we do.”
Um, yes it is.
According to Merriam-Webster, a definition of a raid as “a sudden invasion by officers of the law.” In this case, ICE agents sweep in to target specific people against whom the government has obtained deportation orders, and also detain anyone else they encounter who is in the country without permission.
That’s a raid.