- 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)
Mississippi Asks Supreme Court To Overturn Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court’s decision to consider Mississippi’s restrictive abortion ban already has sweeping implications for the precedents set under the landmark reproductive rights ruling, but now the state is asking the high court to go even further.
Mississippi’s Abortion Case
Mississippi filed a brief Thursday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade when it hears the state’s 15-week abortion ban this fall.
After months of deliberation, the high court agreed in May to hear what will be the first abortion case the 6-to-3 conservative majority will decide.
Both a district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit had ruled that Mississippi could not enforce the 2018 law that banned nearly all abortions at 15 weeks with exceptions for only “severe fetal abnormality,” but not rape and incest.
If the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi law, it would undo decades of precedent set under Roe in 1973 and upheld under Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, where the court respectively ruled and reaffirmed that states could not ban abortion before the fetus is “viable” and can live outside the womb, which is generally around 24 to 28 weeks.
When the justices decided to hear the case, they said they would specifically examine the question of whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”
Depending on the scope of their decision on the Mississippi law, the court’s ruling could allow other states to pass much more restrictive abortion bans without the risk of lower courts striking down those laws.
As a result, legal experts have said the case will represent the most significant ruling on reproductive rights since Casey nearly three decades ago, and the Thursday brief raises the stakes even more.
When Mississippi asked the justices to take up its case last June, the state’s attorney general, Lynn Fitch (R), explicitly stated that the petition’s questions “do not require the Court to overturn Roe or Casey.”
But that was before the court’s conservatives solidified their supermajority with the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett — who personally opposes abortion — following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
New Filing Takes Aim at Roe
With the new filing, it appears that Fitch views the high court’s altered makeup as an opportunity to undermine the constitutional framework that has been in place for the better part of the last century.
“The Constitution’s text says nothing about abortion,” Fitch wrote in the brief, arguing that American society has changed so much that the previous rulings need to be reheard.
“Today, adoption is accessible and on a wide scale women attain both professional success and a rich family life, contraceptives are more available and effective, and scientific advances show that an unborn child has taken on the human form and features months before viability,” she added, claiming the power should be left to state lawmakers.
“Roe and Casey shackle states to a view of the facts that is decades out of date,” she continued. “The national fever on abortion can break only when this Court returns abortion policy to the states.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Mississippi’s sole abortion provider in the suit against the state’s law, painted Fitch’s effort as one that will have a chilling effect on abortion rights nationwide.
“Mississippi has stunningly asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe and every other abortion rights decision in the last five decades,” Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the group said in a statement Thursday. “Today’s brief reveals the extreme and regressive strategy, not just of this law, but of the avalanche of abortion bans and restrictions that are being passed across the country.”
The Supreme Court has not yet said exactly when during its fall term it will hear oral arguments on the Mississippi case, but a decision is expected to come down by next June or July, as is standard.
An anticipated ruling just months before the 2022 midterms will almost certainly position abortion as a top issue at the ballot box.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (Politico)
Republicans Boycott Jan. 6 Committee After Pelosi Rejects Two of McCarthy’s Picks
The House Minority Leader said that unless House Speaker Pelosi reinstated the two members, Republicans will launch their own investigation into the insurrection.
Pelosi Vetoes Republicans
Republicans are boycotting the select committee to investigate the insurrection after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) rejected two of the five GOP members Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) picked to serve on the panel Wednesday.
In a statement, Pelosi cited the “statements and actions” of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Oh.) and Jim Banks (R-In.), whose nominations she said she was opposing “with respect for the integrity of the investigation.”
Jordan and Banks — both staunch allies of former President Donald Trump — have helped propagate the previous leader’s false election claims, opposed efforts to investigate the insurrection, and voted not to certify the election for President Joe Biden.
A senior Democratic aide also specifically told The Washington Post that Democrats did not want Jordan on the panel because he reportedly helped Trump strategized how to overturn the election and due to the fact he spoke to the then-president on Jan. 6, meaning there is a possibility he could be called to testify before the very same committee.
The aide also said that Democrats opposed Banks’ selection because of a statement he issued after McCarthy chose him.
In the statement, the representative compared the insurrection to the racial justice protests last summer, implied that the rioters were just normal American’s expressing their political views, and claimed the committee was a political ploy “to justify the Left’s authoritarian agenda.”
Notably, Pelosi did say she would accept McCarthy’s three other nominees — including Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Wi.), who also voted against certifying Biden’s win.
McCarthy Threatens Separate Investigation
McCarthy, however, refused to select new members, and instead opted to remove all his appointees from the would-be bipartisan committee.
In a statement condemning the move, the minority leader said that Pelosi’s action “represents an egregious abuse of power.”
“Denying the voices of members who have served in the military and law enforcement, as well as leaders of standing committees, has made it undeniable that this panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility and shows the Speaker is more interested in playing politics than seeking the truth,” he said.
“Unless Speaker Pelosi reverses course and seats all five Republican nominees, Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts.”
Pelosi defended her decision during a press conference Thursday, where she said that Banks and Jordan were “ridiculous” choices for the panel.
“When statements are ridiculous and fall into the realm of, ‘You must be kidding,’ there’s no way that they’re going to be on the committee,” she added.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNBC)
More Republican Are Pushing COVID Vaccinations, But the Party Remains Divided on Its Messaging
The renewed effort to encourage vaccination comes as the surge in COVID cases caused by the delta variant continues to disproportionately impact Republican-led states with low vaccination rates.
GOP Leaders Ramps Up Vaccination Push
In recent days, more Republican leaders and prominent conservatives have ramped up efforts to encourage members of their party to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the U.S. continues to see massive surges from the delta variant.
Some, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), have been pushing Americans to get vaccinated for months — a call he reiterated again on Tuesday. Many others, however, have been reticent to do the same until recently.
Most notable on that list is Rep. Steve Scalise (La.), the no. 2 Republican in House leadership, who just got his first dose over the weekend after resisting vaccination, claiming he had antibodies from previously contracting COVID. Scalise explained he changed his mind because of delta and encouraged others to do the same.
“There shouldn’t be any hesitancy over whether or not it’s safe and effective,” he said.
The top leader is set to continue pushing that advice. Earlier this week, the GOP Doctors Caucus announced that it would hold a news conference Thursday alongside Scalise and the third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), to encourage vaccination.
Rank and File Republicans Continue To Cast Doubt, Spread Misinformation
There are still plenty of Republicans working to undermine the renewed push to get their party vaccinated.
While many have painted vaccination as a matter of freedom of choice, others have sought to downplay the virus. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose state currently accounts for 40% of all new COVID cases, dismissed the spikes as the result of a “seasonal virus” on Monday.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk — who has had COVID twice — echoed that in a statement to reporters on Tuesday, where he argued that COVID is just something everyone has to live with.
“This is something we deal with in our lives on a daily basis; ever since I’ve been born, there’s sicknesses, there’s flu, there’s different diseases,” he said.
Some members of the GOP have used their positions of power to actively fight against vaccination. That includes Sen. Ron Johnson (Wi.), who has openly said he is not vaccinated. He has also been widely condemned for promoting unproven treatments and false information about vaccines during interviews and congressional hearings.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), who has repeatedly refused to share her vaccination status, has also drawn ire for sharing misinformation and continually comparing COVID prevention efforts to the Holocaust.
Greene was temporarily suspended from Twitter earlier this week for sharing false information on Monday, but she continued to utilize her spotlight to spread misinformation about vaccine-related deaths and side effects during a press conference the following day.
While those who downplay the coronavirus and spread false information about vaccinations are certainly not representative of the entire Republican Party, they are some of the most visible.
Greene and many of her counterparts who push anti-vaccine narratives have frequently been accused of acting in inflammatory ways to get more press — a strategy that more often than not tends to work in their favor.
As a result, Republicans who want to encourage people to get the jabs will have their work cut out for them. Even many of those who have not openly expressed skepticism themselves have still let it flourish in the party for so long by not publicly pushing back against claims from members who sow disinformation.
The GOP’s broader failure to unify around a singular message on vaccines shows clearly among the party’s base.
According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News, poll 86% of Democrats have received at least one shot, but just 45% of Republicans have done the same. While just 6% of Democrats say they are not likely to get the vaccine, 47% of Republicans said they probably will not, and 38% said they definitely will not.
Meanwhile, Republican-led states with low vaccination rates are suffering the most from the new spike in cases and the rapid spread of the delta variant.
Arkansas, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country at just 35%, is currently reporting the highest per-capita cases in the U.S. Hospitalizations have gone up 85% in the state in the last two weeks, placing some hospital systems on the brink of collapse — a problem also faced by parts of Missouri, which has the third-highest COVID cases nationwide.