- 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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)
Biden Mistakenly Calls Out For Dead Lawmaker at White House Event
The remarks prompted concerns about the mental state of the president, who previously mourned the congresswoman’s death in an official White House statement.
Video of President Joe Biden publicly asking if a congresswoman who died last month was present at a White House event went viral Wednesday, giving rise to renewed questions about the leader’s mental acuity.
The remarks were made at the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health, which Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-In.) had helped convene and organize before her sudden death in a car accident.
The president thanked the group of bipartisan lawmakers who helped make the event happen, listing them off one by one, and appearing to look around in search of Rep. Walorski when he reached her name.
“Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie?” he called. “I think she wasn’t going to be here to help make this a reality.”
The incident flummoxed many, especially because Biden had even acknowledged her work on the conference in an official White House statement following her death last month.
“Jill and I are shocked and saddened by the death of Congresswoman Jackie Walorski of Indiana along with two members of her staff in a car accident today in Indiana,” the statement read.
“I appreciated her partnership as we plan for a historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health this fall that will be marked by her deep care for the needs of rural America.”
The Age Maximum Question
Numerous social media users and news outlets presented the mishap as evidence that Biden, who is 79, does not have the mental capacity to serve as president. Others, meanwhile, raised the possibility of imposing an age maximum for the presidency.
Most of the comments against the president came from the right, which has regularly questioned his mental stability. However, the idea of an age limit goes beyond Biden and touches on concerns about America’s most important leaders being too old.
While Biden is the oldest president in history, former President Donald Trump — who is 76 and has also had his mental state continually questioned — would have likewise held that title if he had won re-election in 2020.
These concerns extend outside the presidency as well: the current session of Congress is the oldest on average of any Congress in recent history, and the median ages are fairly similar among Republicans and Democrats when separated by chambers.
There is also a higher percentage of federal lawmakers who are older than the median age. Nearly 1 out of every 4 members are over the age of 70.
What’s more, some of the people in the highest leadership positions are among the oldest members. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), is the oldest-ever House Speaker at 82, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) — the president pro tempore of the Senate and third person in line for the presidency — is the same age, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is 80.
As a result, it is unsurprising that a recent Insider/Morning Consult poll found that 3 in 4 Americans support an age max for members of Congress, and more than 40% say they view the ages of political leaders as a “major” problem.
Those who support the regulations argue that age limits are standard practice in many industries, including for airplane pilots and the military, and thus should be imposed on those who have incredible amounts of power over the country.
However, setting age boundaries on Congress and the President would almost certainly necessitate changes to the Constitution, and because such a move would require federal lawmakers to curtail their own power, there is little political will.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Business Insider) (NBC News)
Churches Protected Loophole in Abuse Reporting for 20 years, Report Finds
In some cases, Clergy members failed to report abuse among their congregation, but state laws protected them from that responsibility.
A Nationwide Campaign to Hide Abuse
More than 130 bills seeking to create or amend child sexual abuse reporting laws have been neutered or killed due to religious opposition over the past two decades, according to a review by the Associated Press.
Many states have laws requiring professionals such as physicians, teachers, and psychotherapists to report any information pertaining to alleged child sexual abuse to authorities. In 33 states, however, clergy are exempt from those requirements if they deem the information privileged.
All of the reform bills reviewed either targeted this loophole and failed or amended the mandatory reporting statute without touching the loophole.
“The Roman Catholic Church has used its well-funded lobbying infrastructure and deep influence among lawmakers in some states to protect the privilege,” the AP stated. “Influential members of the Mormon church and Jehovah’s witnesses have also worked in statehouses and courts to preserve it in areas where their membership is high.”
“This loophole has resulted in an unknown number of predators being allowed to continue abusing children for years despite having confessed the behavior to religious officials,” the report continued.
“They believe they’re on a divine mission that justifies keeping the name and the reputation of their institution pristine,” David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, told the outlet. “So the leadership has a strong disincentive to involve the authorities, police or child protection people.”
Abuses Go Unreported
Last month, another AP investigation discovered that a Mormon bishop acting under the direction of church leaders in Arizona failed to report a church member who had confessed to sexually abusing his five-year-old daughter.
Merrill Nelson, a church lawyer and Republican lawmaker in Utah, reportedly advised the bishop against making the report because of Arizona’s clergy loophole, effectively allowing the father to allegedly rape and abuse three of his children for years.
Democratic State Sen. Victoria Steele proposed three bills in response to the case to close the loophole but told the AP that key Mormon legislators thwarted her efforts.
In Montana, a woman who was abused by a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses won a $35 million jury verdict against the church because it failed to report her abuse, but in 2020 the state supreme court reversed the judgment, citing the state’s reporting exemption for clergy.
In 2013, a former Idaho police officer turned himself in for abusing children after having told 15 members of the Mormon church, but prosecutors declined to charge the institution for not reporting him because it was protected under the clergy loophole.
The Mormon church said in a written statement to the AP that a member who confesses child sex abuse “has come seeking an opportunity to reconcile with God and to seek forgiveness for their actions. … That confession is considered sacred, and in most states, is regarded as a protected religious conversation owned by the confessor.”
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Deseret) (Standard Examiner)
Texas AG Ken Paxton Allegedly Flees Official Serving Subpoenas in Truck
Following the news, a judge granted the attorney general’s request to quash the subpoenas.
Paxton on the Run
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fled his own home in a truck Monday morning to evade an official trying to serve him a subpoena, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.
Last month, several nonprofits filed a lawsuit seeking to block Texas from charging individuals under the state’s abortion ban in cases that happened out of state or prior to Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Two subpoenas were issued summoning Paxton to a Tuesday court hearing, one for his professional title and the other addressed to him personally.
Early on Monday Ernesto Martin Herrera, a process server, knocked on the front door of Paxton’s home in McKinney and was greeted by Texas state senator Angela Paxton, who is the Attorney General’s wife.
According to the affidavit, Herrera identified himself and informed her that he was delivering court documents to Mr. Paxton. She responded that her husband was on the phone and in a hurry to leave, so Herrera returned to his vehicle and waited for Ken to emerge.
Nearly an hour later, the affidavit states, a black Chevrolet Tahoe pulled into the driveway, and 20 minutes after that, the attorney general stepped out.
“I walked up the driveway approaching Mr. Paxton and called him by his name,” Herrera wrote in the affidavit. “As soon as he saw me and heard me call his name out, he turned around and RAN back inside the house through the same door in the garage.”
Shortly afterward, Angela exited the house and climbed into a truck in the driveway, leaving a rear driver-side door open.
“A few minutes later I saw Mr. Paxton RAN from the door inside the garage towards the rear door behind the driver side,” Herrera wrote. “I approached the truck, and loudly called him by his name and stated that I had court documents for him.”
“Mr. Paxton ignored me and kept heading for the truck,” he continued.
The affidavit adds that Herrera placed the documents on the ground by the vehicle and stated that he was serving a subpoena, but the Paxtons drove away.
Process Server or Lingering Stranger?
Following the publication of the affidavit in The Texas Tribune, Ken attacked the news outlet on Twitter and claimed to fear for his safety.
“This is a ridiculous waste of time and the media should be ashamed of themselves,” he wrote. “All across the country, conservatives have faced threats to their safety – many threats that received scant coverage or condemnation from the mainstream media.”
“It’s clear that the media wants to drum up another controversy involving my work as Attorney General, so they’re attacking me for having the audacity to avoid a stranger lingering outside my home and showing concern about the safety and well-being of my family,” he continued.
On Monday, the attorney general filed two requests: a motion to quash the subpoena and another to seal the certificates of service, which included the affidavit.
His lawyers argued that Herrera “loitered at the Attorney General’s home for over an hour, repeatedly shouted at him, and accosted” him and his wife.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted both requests on Tuesday.
In a statement, the attorney general said that Herrera is “lucky this situation did not escalate further or necessitate force.”