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ICE To Begin Mass Immigration Arrests

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  • President Donald Trump said in a tweet Monday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin “removing the millions of illegal aliens” who have made their way into the U.S.
  • Senior White House and ICE officials said they had already planned to ramp up their efforts, but Trump’s choice to publicly announce their plans came as a surprise.
  • Some ICE officials worry that publicly announcing their usually covert operations could both endanger agents and undermine the effectiveness of their plans, though the acting director of ICE disagrees and says Trump’s tweet did not give any specifics that would put agents at risk.
  • Experts and ICE officials say that even deporting one million is unrealistic, noting that ICE already lacks the resources to deal with the current influx of immigrants.

Announcement

President Donald Trump announced in a tweet Monday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will begin “removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States” starting next week.

Following the announcement, it was reported that ICE officials were surprised by the tweet. According to reports, senior White House and ICE officials said Monday they were not aware that Trump planned to share their enforcement plans on Twitter.

Part of the reason the tweet cames as a surprise for immigration officials is due to the fact that large-scale ICE operations are usually kept secret to avoid tipping off illegal immigrants.

Announcing those kinds of plans publically could potentially jeopardize months of planning that requires secrecy to be effective.

In fact, just last year, Trump threatened the mayor of Oakland, California with criminal prosecution for obstruction of justice after she alerted her residents to a coming raid.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that both current and former ICE officials said that Trump’s unexpected tweet blew the cover for their planned operations.

The officials did not say if Trump’s tweet referenced a specific operation they were planning, but they did confirm that they are preparing to launch a new effort to take thousands of illegal immigrants into custody.

The officials who spoke to the Post also predicted that Trump’s tweet could cause immigrants who are at threat of being deported to leave known addresses in the next few days, which would make it much harder for ICE officials to find and deport people and undermine Trump’s plan to ramp up deportations entirely.

Other experts also worry that publically announcing ICE’s operations could endanger ICE agents. A former senior ICE official told a BuzzFeed News that Trump’s announcement is “putting officer safety at risk,” adding “This is not presidential. This is not leadership.”

However, the new acting director of ICE, Mark Morgan, said yesterday in an interview with PBS that he did not think Trump’s tweet put agents at risk because it did not give specifics.

“I’m not concerned,” Morgan said. “They’re professionals. They know exactly what they need to do.”

ICE Resources

Another reason Trump’s tweet surprised ICE officials is due to the fact that ICE simply does not have the resources to arrest “millions” of people.

According to estimates from Pew Research Center, in 2017, there were about 10.5 million people who live in the U.S. illegally.

Sources: Pew Research Center

Trump administration officials have specified that the new plan will focus on rounding up the more than one million people who have been given final deportation orders, which means a judge has already ruled they should be deported.

However, even just deporting one million rather than “millions” is a huge task. For context, the record number for deportations in a year was 419,384 in 2012 under former President Barack Obama. Even then, it still took the Obama administration nearly four years to hit the one million mark.

During the eight years of the George W. Bush administration, a total of two million people were deported. In contrast, ICE deported 256,085 people in Fiscal Year 2018, according to data from the agency.

Source: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Already, Trump faces a plethora of challenges. Illegal border crossings are currently at their highest levels in more than a decade.

At the same time, deportations have gone down in recent months, according to the Post, which reported that recent ICE data showed that the agency is averaging around 7,000 deportations a month.

Right now, ICE does not have enough funding or detention space for the current level of detainees, much less nearly quadruple that.

According to the Associated Press, as of June 8, the total number of adult detainees alone was 53,141, despite the fact that the agency is only budgeted for 45,000. Ramping up arrests will just create more detainees.

To complicate matters more, there are not enough ICE agents to carry out the deportations at the rate that Trump has suggested. Currently, there are around 5,000 officers in Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), the branch of ICE that carries out deportations.

As a result, experts say that such a large-scale push would be extremely expensive and highly unlikely.

There is also the question of overall effectiveness. In order to even attempt to reach the numbers Trump suggested, agents will have to raid homes individually.

However, in those sweeps, agents work from recent addresses, which could be problematic if their predictions are true, and Trump’s announcement prompted illegal immigrants to leave their current addresses.

Agents also often do not have search warrants, so illegal immigrants are not required to open their doors. As a result, ICE agents usually capture about 30 to 40 percent of targets, according to the Associated Press.

What Next?

While Trump’s annoucement may have come as a surprise, his plans to aggressively pursue mass deportations are not.

Last month, the Post reported that former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and then-acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello left the Trump administration partly because of the fact that they “challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities.”

According to Homeland Security officials, the two were concerned about the effectiveness of the plan as well as the public outrage it could cause. Trump pulled Vitiello’s nomination for ICE director back April because he wanted the agency to go in a “tougher direction.”

Already, the new acting director does seem to at least talk tougher. In his first two weeks at the job, Morgan has said publicly that he wants to increase enforcement and go after families with deportation orders.

Again, law enforcement officials are worried about the public backlash, especially when it comes to families.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Associated Press) (Fox News)

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Jan. 6 Rally Organizers Say They Met With Members of Congress and White House Officials Ahead of Insurrection

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Two sources told Rolling Stone that they participated in “dozens” of meetings with “multiple members of Congress” and top White House aides to plan the rallies that proceeded the Jan. 6 insurrection.


Rolling Stone Report

Members of Congress and White House Staffers under former President Donald Trump allegedly helped plan the Jan. 6 protests that took place outside the U.S. Capitol ahead of the insurrection, according to two sources who spoke to Rolling Stone.

According to a report the outlet published Sunday, the two people, identified only as “a rally organizer” and “a planner,” have both “begun communicating with congressional investigators.”

The two told Rolling Stone that they participated in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of the protests and said that “multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.”

“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the person identified as a rally organizer said. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”

The two also told Rolling Stone that a number of other Congress members were either personally involved in the conversations or had staffers join, including Representatives Paul Gosar (R-Az.), Lauren Boebert (R-Co.), Mo Brooks (R-Al.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Andy Biggs (R-Az.), and Louie Gohmert (R-Tx.).

The outlet added that it “separately obtained documentary evidence that both sources were in contact with Gosar and Boebert on Jan. 6,” though it did not go into further detail. 

A spokesperson for Greene has denied involvement with planning the protests, but so far, no other members have responded to the report. 

Previous Allegations Against Congressmembers Named

This is not the first time allegations have surfaced concerning the involvement of some of the aforementioned congress members regarding rallies that took place ahead of the riot.

As Rolling Stone noted, Gosar, Greene, and Boebert were all listed as speakers at the “Wild Protest” at the Capitol on Jan. 6, which was arranged by “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander.

Additionally, Alexander said during a now-deleted live stream in January that he personally planned the rally with the help of Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks.

Biggs and Brooks previously denied any involvement in planning the event, though Brooks did speak at a pro-Trump protest on Jan. 6.

Gosar, for his part, has remained quiet for months but tagged Alexander in numerous tweets involving Stop the Steal events leading up to Jan. 6, including one post that appears to be taken at a rally at the Capitol hours before the insurrection.

Notably, the organizer and the planner also told Rolling Stone that Gosar “dangled the possibility of a ‘blanket pardon’ in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests.”

Alleged White House Involvement

Beyond members of Congress, the outlet reported that the sources “also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.”

Both reportedly described Meadows “as someone who played a major role in the conversations surrounding the protests.”

The two additionally said Katrina Pierson, who worked for the Trump campaign in both 2016 and 2020, was a key liaison between the organizers of the demonstrations and the White House.

“Katrina was like our go-to girl,” the organizer told the outlet. “She was like our primary advocate.”

According to Rolling Stone, the sources have so far only had informal talks with the House committee investigating the insurrection but are expecting to testify publicly. Both reportedly said they would share “new details about the members’ specific roles” in planning the rallies with congressional investigators.

See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Business Insider) (Forbes)

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Jan. 6 Committee Prepares Criminal Charges Against Steve Bannon for Ignoring Subpoena

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The move comes after former President Trump told several of his previous aides not to cooperate with the committee’s investigation into the insurrection.


Bannon Refuses to Comply With Subpoena

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection announced Thursday that it is seeking to hold former White House advisor Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

The decision marks a significant escalation in the panel’s efforts to force officials under former President Donald Trump’s administration to comply with its probe amid Trump’s growing efforts to obstruct the inquiry.

In recent weeks, the former president has launched a number of attempts to block the panel from getting key documents, testimonies, and other evidence requested by the committee that he claims are protected by executive privilege.

Notably, some of those assertions have been shut down. On Friday, President Joe Biden rejected Trump’s effort to withhold documents relating to the insurrection.

Still, Trump has also directed former officials in his administration not to comply with subpoenas or cooperate with the committee. 

That demand came after the panel issued subpoenas ordering depositions from Bannon and three other former officials: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, and Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel.

After Trump issued his demand, Bannon’s lawyer announced that he would not obey the subpoena until the panel reached an agreement with Trump or a court ruled on the executive privilege matter.

Many legal experts have questioned whether Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, can claim executive privilege for something that happened when he was not working for the executive.

Panel Intensifies Compliance Efforts

The Thursday decision from the committee is significant because it will likely set up a legal battle and test how much authority the committee can and will exercise in requiring compliance.

It also sets an important precedent for those who have been subpoenaed. While Bannon is the first former official to openly defy the committee, there have been reports that others plan to do the same. 

The panel previously said Patel and Meadows were “engaging” with investigators, but on Thursday, several outlets reported that the two — who were supposed to appear before the body on Thursday and Friday respectively —  are now expected to be given an extension or continuance.

Sources told reporters that Scavino, who was also asked to testify Friday, has had his deposition postponed because service of his subpoena was delayed.

As far as what happens next for Bannon, the committee will vote to adopt the contempt report next week. Once that is complete, the matter will go before the House for a full vote.  

Assuming the Democratic-held House approves the contempt charge, it will then get referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to bring the matter before a grand jury.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (Bloomberg)

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Senate Votes To Extend Debt Ceiling Until December

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The move adds another deadline to Dec. 3, which is also when the federal government is set to shut down unless Congress approves new spending.


Debt Ceiling Raised Temporarily

The Senate voted on Thursday to extend the debt ceiling until December, temporarily averting a fiscal catastrophe.

The move, which followed weeks of stalemate due to Republican objections, came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) partially backed down from his blockade and offered a short-term proposal.

After much whipping of votes, 11 Republicans joined Democrats to break the legislative filibuster and move to final approval of the measure. The bill ultimately passed in a vote of 50-48 without any Republican support.

The legislation will now head to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said members would be called back from their current recess for a vote on Tuesday. 

The White House said President Joe Biden would sign the measure, but urged Congress to pass a longer extension.

“We cannot allow partisan politics to hold our economy hostage, and we can’t allow the routine process of paying our bills to turn into a confidence-shaking political showdown every two years or every two months,’’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Under the current bill, the nation’s borrowing limit will be increased by $480 billion, which the Treasury Department said will cover federal borrowing until around Dec. 3.

The agency had previously warned that it would run out of money by Oct. 18 if Congress failed to act. Such a move would have a chilling impact on the economy, forcing the U.S. to default on its debts and potentially plunging the country into a recession. 

Major Hurdles Remain

While the legislation extending the ceiling will certainly offer temporary relief, it sets up another perilous deadline for the first Friday in December, when government funding is also set to expire if Congress does not approve another spending bill.

Regardless of the new deadline, many of the same hurdles lawmakers faced the first time around remain. 

Democrats are still struggling to hammer out the final details of Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending agenda, which Republicans have strongly opposed.

Notably, Democratic leaders previously said they could pass the bill through budget reconciliation, which would allow them to approve the measure with 50 votes and no Republican support.

Such a move would require all 50 Senators, but intraparty disputes remain over objections brought by Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), who have been stalling the process for months.

Although disagreements over reconciliation are ongoing among Democrats, McConnell has insisted the party use the obscure procedural process to raise the debt limit. Democrats, however, have balked at the idea, arguing that tying the debt ceiling to reconciliation would set a dangerous precedent.

Despite Republican efforts to connect the limit to Biden’s economic agenda, raising the ceiling is not the same as adopting new spending. Rather, the limit is increased to pay off spending that has already been authorized by previous sessions of Congress and past administrations.

In fact, much of the current debt stems from policies passed by Republicans during the Trump administration, including the 2017 tax overhaul. 

As a result, while Democrats have signaled they may make concessions to Manchin and Sinema, they strongly believe that Republicans must join them to increase the debt ceiling to fund projects their party supported. 

It is currently unclear when or how the ongoing stalemate will be resolved, or how either party will overcome their fervent objections.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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