Trump delays deportation raids, gives himself two more weeks to revel in fear
June 24, 2019
On Saturday, Trump tweeted that the mass immigration raids being planned by ICE for this past weekend were being put on hold for two weeks to give time for Republicans and Democrats to come to some agreement about changing asylum rules and “Loophole problems at southern border.” He went on to tweet that if no progress was made. “Deportations start!!” Trump’s original announcement about the raids said that millions of people would be deported. But in reality the disclosed targets are about 2,000 families.
Yes, families. What sets these raids apart from other enforcement actions is that the administration is specifically targeting families where one or more members have been issued a removal order. The focus on families had garnered some pushback from Department of Homeland officials when first discussed, as they were fearful of the optics of separating families again. But those folks are gone now; Trump has purged the leadership at DHS and replaced most leadership with hard-liners. He also created the position of Border Czar last week and nominated Thomas Homan to that position. Homan oversaw Obama’s deportation program – which at its peak in 2012 lead to 400,000 deportations in one year – far more than Trump has deported.
All of this corresponds with Trump officially announcing his re-election campaign last week – and thus we have a preview of the next 15 months with a singular focus on immigration, coupled with outlandish rhetoric, threats and fear mongering. If we thought the last two and half years were bad – I am fearful it will only get worse. “Keep America Great” indeed.
At least part of the goal here is to generate fear. From the Los Angeles Times,
Emilio Amaya, a longtime immigrant advocate in the Inland Empire, spent much of the day Friday taking calls from a frightened community.
Some people had called the San Bernardino Community Service Center because of rumors, which turned out to be unfounded, that immigration raids were underway in their neighborhoods. Others shared that they had bought food and other basics so that they would not have to leave their homes next week. Still others said they would not be taking their children outside in the coming days…
…The announcements sent fear throughout immigrant communities. “The effect is terror,” Amaya said. “We’re getting call after call after call. There is a lot of fear.”
From Chicago, following the announced delay:
[I]mmigration groups like the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights remain on guard, and are still trying to determine what to do next. Activists have been busy all weekend in Chicago, protesting and working with families.
The ACLU is accusing the president is playing games with the lives of millions of people, calling the threatened raids blatant cruelty whether or not they occur.
Reacting to the president’s decision, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Chicago is united in its support of immigrant communities, and criticized the planned raids.
“This is a race to the bottom for [Trump], galvanize shrinking base at expense of terrorizing our immigrant communities,” Lightfoot said.
Ahead of the planned raids, Lightfoot directed the Chicago police to cut off Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) access to its databases because Chicago is a sanctuary city.
Immigrant activists say President Donald Trump’s tweet June 17, that “ICE will begin the process of removing millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” was meant to incite terror.
“We are disgusted by the administration and ICE’s glee in terrorizing immigrant families, leaving children crying and sick to their stomach with fear about what could happen to their parents,” said Ana Rodriguez, of the Colorado People’s Alliance. “We know that massive raids or not, ICE is ripping away our neighbors as collateral damage every single day and that we must continue to be ready to protect each other no matter what.”
As Rodriguez says, whatever happens around a potential deal with Democrats and Republicans on border security and asylum, raids still happen every day. ICE is overseeing deportation of 7,000 people a month from internal enforcement and is sending tens of thousands of asylum seekers across the border with Mexico to wait determination of their cases.
Indeed, the day after tweeting about the delay, Trump said a deal with Democrats “probably won’t happen.” The goal is not resolution. Trump has nothing else to talk about. He is engaging in political theater. The tragedy is that in a world where facts don’t matter, and truth is contingent on the election season, humanity fades and we are left only with the operation of power. I suspect the real reason for the delay is simply to give Trump two more weeks of the news cycle to grandstand and scare people.