The day before his presidential campaign kick-off event last week, Donald Trump Tweeted out an announcement that ICE was about to launch massive raids nationwide to round up immigrant families. The announcement was reinforced by Trump on Friday, with the announcement that raids were to begin on Sunday. Then on Saturday Trump reversed himself and said the raids were being postponed. The fear in the immigrant population was matched, according to The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer, by the confusion at ICE.
According to Blitzer, ICE agents found out about this “operation” through Trump’s Tweet. There was no prior planning or preparation. Blitzer writes:
On Sunday, I spoke to an ICE officer about the week’s events. “Almost nobody was looking forward to this operation,” the officer said. “It was a boondoggle, a nightmare.” Even on the eve of the operation, many of the most important details remained unresolved. “This was a family op. So where are we going to put the families? There’s no room to detain them, so are we going to put them in hotels?” the officer said. On Friday, an answer came down from ice leadership: the families would be placed in hotels while ice figured out what to do with them. That, in turn, raised other questions. “So the families are in hotels, but who’s going to watch them?” the officer continued. “What happens if the person we arrest has a U.S.-citizen child? What do we do with the children? Do we need to get booster seats for the vans? Should we get the kids toys to play with?” Trump’s tweet broadcasting the operation had also created a safety issue for the officers involved. “No police agency goes out and says, ‘Tomorrow, between four and eight, we’re going to be in these neighborhoods,’ ” the officer said.
John Amaya, a former deputy chief of staff of ICE, told Blitzer that Trump’s Tweet announcing the timing of the raids was “a dumb-shit political move that will only hurt the agents.”
According to Blitzer, the aborted raids were the brainchild of the infamous Stephen Miller and Mark Morgan, who heads ICE. Acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, reportedly opposed the raids and he has been accused by some in the Trump White House of trying to undermine them.
The fact that Trump has been bypassing the head of Homeland Security to deal directly with ICE will add yet a new layer of chaos to the cruelty of the administration’s attack on immigrants.