The ICE raids that were launched more than a week ago have been remarkably unsuccessful in capturing immigrants. The New York Times reports this morning that, while the raids targeted more than 2,105 people, only 35 were arrested. Of those actually taken into custody, only 17 were the people targeted in the raids, the other 18 were immigrants who happened to be at the scene of the raid. In other words, the raids had a capture rate of 0.8%.
There were several factors in the failure of the raids. Most notorious was the several announcements of the raids by Donald Trump. Typically, a surge in ICE activity is only announced after raids have been completed. The recent raids appeared timed to coincide with Trump campaign events and the failure of the Trump administration to win on the Census citizenship question in the Supreme Court. Trump’s very public political exploitation of the raids alerted the entire country to them. Immigrants at risk of arrest seem to have simply moved from their homes before the raids took place.
A second factor appeared to be the lack of preparedness by ICE. The deportation agency seemed to learn of the raids back in June from Trump’s Tweets. At the time, agents were not positioned for the raids, nor was detention space available.
The third factor in the raids’ failure was the refusal of immigrants to cooperate with ICE. As word spread that ICE could be refused entry if they did not have a judicial warrant, many ICE raids petered out at the locked doors of their targets. Immigrant groups like the New York Immigration Coalition, LIISA, CARECEN, Long Island Wins, and Sepa Mujer were able to get out basic Know Your Rights information to at-risk immigrants that helped them turn away ICE agents. When ICE agents were asked for a warrant, they almost never had one and left empty-handed.