President Donald Trump tweeted out Monday night that his administration plans on a sweeping immigration enforcement crackdown on individuals who have already arrived in the country that could see U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stage coordinated raids in multiple cities. “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”
Whether the anti-immigration blitz actually takes place is another matter and all (practical) signs point to this being another example of the president’s trumped-up bravado. “U.S. officials with knowledge of the preparations have said in recent days that the operation was not imminent, and ICE officials said late Monday night that they were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter,” the Washington Post reports. “Executing a large-scale operation of the type under discussion requires hundreds—and perhaps thousands—of U.S. agents and supporting law enforcement personnel, as well as weeks of intelligence gathering and planning to verify addresses and locations of individuals targeted for arrest. The president’s claim that ICE would be deporting ‘millions’ also was at odds with the reality of the agency’s staffing and budgetary challenges.”
Whispers of a mass detention plan being pushed by adviser Stephen Miller did emerge last month; the initiative aimed to make as many as 10,000 arrests across 10 U.S. cities. The Trump administration wants the intentionally high-visibility effort to act as a deterrent to undocumented immigrants considering coming across the border. The practical and human implications of the plan however prompted both then-acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to balk, citing operational shortcomings and the potential public blowback to arresting families in the streets. Both lost their jobs in short order.
Former FBI and Border Patrol official Mark Morgan is now in control of ICE and has stated publicly that part of his mission is to enhance immigration enforcement inside the country by increasing deportation orders. So far, the Washington Post reports, Morgan’s more Trumpy (and Miller-esque) stance has unsurprisingly impressed Trump, particularly during cable TV interviews.