The Slatest

Trump Administration Has Been Working on Sweeping, High Visibility Mass Arrest of Thousands of Immigrant Families

U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents take part in a safety drill in New Mexico on Jan. 31, 2019.
U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents take part in a safety drill in New Mexico on Jan. 31, 2019.
HERIKA MARTINEZ/Getty Images

The White House has been working in secret on a sweeping show of force aiming to arrest en masse thousands of immigrant parents and children, the Washington Post reports.
The massive detention plan, which targeted as many as 10,000 arrests across 10 U.S.
cities, was aiming at high visibility and high drama in order to act as a deterrent to undocumented immigrants, according to Department of Homeland Security officials. Unsurprisingly, the Post reports senior adviser Stephen Miller was a big fan of the plan.

The audacious proposal, which would have required highly-coordinated raids against parents with children, ran into resistance at the Department of Homeland Security however. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello pushed back against the White House proposal, not on ethical or moral grounds, but on operational ones. They considered the idea half-baked and were concerned that a lack of preparation for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents ran the risk of enflaming public outrage.

“The administration wanted to target the crush of families that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after the president’s failed ‘zero tolerance’ prosecution push in early 2018,” the Post reports. “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.” Nielsen and Vitiello both balked at implementing the plan and within days of one another they were ousted from their prominent roles in the administration, which Trump told reporters was because he had opted to go in a “tougher direction.”