Immigration

That ICE deportation crackdown Trump threatened last week never happened. Here’s why.

ICE to target businesses that hire undocumented workers

ICE targeting employers who offer work to undocumented immigrants, agency says.
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ICE targeting employers who offer work to undocumented immigrants, agency says.

For several weeks, neighborhoods nationwide watched to see how the Trump administration’s threatened mass deportation crackdown would actually go down.

Undocumented immigrants with final removal orders hid in their homes, while others fled town or took refuge in secret shelters. Simultaneously, advocates aggressively knocked on doors to distribute “Know your rights” fliers and answered hotline calls while attorneys rallied to form a rapid-response team.

But the highly anticipated nationwide raids — which at one point were prematurely announced by President Donald Trump — never fully materialized, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency shared some of the reasons Tuesday.

“We had some locations where we had our own officers under surveillance, and so for officer safety, we pulled off on some of the operations we were conducting,” Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence said. He did not explain what he meant by ICE officers being under surveillance, or by whom.

“At the end of the day the most important thing is that, not only are the officers safe, but people we are trying to apprehend are safe and the general public is safe,” he added. “Our officers have complete discretion when there is a situation which is unsafe for them to try to make an enforcement action. They can back off and do it another time.”

Albence said other obstacles included the weather: “There was a tropical depression that was cutting through New Orleans. New Orleans is one of our largest areas in regards to targets so we suspended operations.”

The agency also said the heavy “fanfare and media attention” before the expected raids made it harder for ICE to execute a high number of apprehensions.

“It’s a very challenging and complex time for officers,” Albence said. “We’ve seen some very disturbing activity targeting our officers and detention facilities.”

According to the agency, ICE’s recent “comprehensive interior enforcement initiative,” which took place from May 13 through July 11, led to 934 arrests, 35 of which were families.

The operation targeted “charged or convicted criminals, people with final removal orders ordered by a judge in absentia as well as worksite violators.”

According to ICE, 605 people with criminal convictions and 93 people with pending criminal charges were apprehended.

Out of the families that were detained, 18 of the family members were people specifically targeted by ICE. The rest were people that agents encountered inside the households of the people they were originally targeting — often referred to as “collaterals.” Albence would not say if any family members were separated in the process.

Albence said more than one million people nationwide have final orders of deportation, but that almost half of them can’t be targeted because they are in legal proceedings. He said 576,000 of those people are classified as fugitives and can be detained at any moment.

Government officials said the majority of the undocumented immigrants who were arrested during the month-long mission had criminal backgrounds.

“Individuals with crimes ranging from domestic violence, all sorts of violent offenses, firearm charges, other weapons charges,” Albence said. “Very serious individuals, who many times are recidivist criminals.”

ICE would not provide a breakdown on where the arrests occurred. Another component of ICE’s operation included workforce surges, targeting businesses that employ undocumented immigrants.

Monique O. Madan covers immigration and enterprise; she previously covered breaking news and local government. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and The Dallas Morning News. She is currently a Reveal Fellow at the Center for Investigative Reporting. She graduated from Miami Dade College and Emerson College in Boston. A note to tipsters: If you want to send Monique confidential information, her email and mailbox are open. The address is 3511 NW 91st Ave, Doral, FL 33172. You can also direct message her on social media and she’ll provide encrypted Signal details.
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