In what appears to be partly the result of the highly publicized nature of the operation, as well as left-wing activists and politicians working to intervene, only 35 criminal illegal aliens were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week. The arrests were made after a series of raids that targeted over 2,100 immigrants guilty of committing crimes in addition to living in the country illegally.
After delaying the operation for a few weeks to give Congress a chance to negotiate on border security measures, the Trump administration gave the green light to a series of ICE raids last week targeting over 2,100 illegal aliens "who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security." The operation, which The New York Times publicized as targeting "thousands of immigrant family members" and warned might result in "collateral" deportations, had the potential to bring in more illegal aliens than just those initially targeted by ICE.
But with all the publicity — in part promoted by Trump announcing the raid early on, as The Daily Beast notes — and the help of illegal immigrant "advocates," the raids appear to have fallen far short of expectations. The New York Times reports that just 35 people were actually detained.
All the publicity, the Times suggests, "may have prompted many of those who had been targeted — 2,105 people in more than a dozen cities who had received final deportation orders but had not reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers — to temporarily leave their homes, or to move altogether to evade arrest." The advance warning about the impending raids "also gave immigrant advocates time to counsel families about their rights, which include not opening the door or answering questions," while on social media, "community groups shared detailed information about sightings of ICE agents."
"I don’t know of any other population where people are telling them how to avoid arrest as a result of illegal activity," ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence told the Times. "It certainly makes it harder for us to effectuate these orders issued. You didn’t hear ICE talking about it before the operation was taking place."
As The Daily Wire highlighted ahead of the raids, while ICE would not provide specifics about the operation due to "law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel," a spokesman did offer an explanation of the priorities of the agency to the Times. "As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security," an ICE spokesman told the paper.
As for "collateral" arrests, the spokesman said that was indeed a potential result of the raids. While the agency prioritizes detaining those who pose a threat, "all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and – if found removable by final order – removal from the United States."
According to early reports, the raids were scheduled to take place in at least 10 cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. Trump announced the raids online last month before delaying the order.
This article has been expanded to include more information from the new Times report.