In latest demonstration of Russian influence, Trump puts a Czar in charge of our border
June 21, 2019
Yeah, for a country that pledges allegiance to the flag of liberty and justice for all every day, folks love to pull out the totalitarian symbols whenever they want to “get tough” on anything - and for some reason, it’s always a “Czar.”
Well, Trump wants a Border Czar now, and well, great. Trump even knows who he wants, Thomas Homan. The irony, tragedy, or farce, take your pick, is that his selection does not harken back to late 19th Century autocracy so much as the human rights disaster our immigration system was before Trump took office and made it even worse. Yeah, he is pulling from Obama’s team for the hard-liner he wants. Let that sink in.
Homan has a controversial reputation. Under his leadership, border arrests during the Obama administration surged. In 2016, The Washington Post began a profile of Homan: “Thomas Homan deports people. And he’s really good at it.”
On his LinkedIn page, Homan lists the removal of “more than 369.000 aliens from the United States including 216,000 criminal aliens” as one of his key achievements, as well as raising “public and community awareness about the issues of immigration and border security.”
In 2017, Homan told Congress that undocumented immigrants “need to be worried” that his agency will arrest them. After the comment sparked pushback, Homan doubled down, telling CNN that those in the country illegally “should be afraid.”
As I am writing this, Homan has not yet accepted the nomination. But who better to come in and oversee rounding up tens of thousands of immigrants for deportation than somebody that has done it already - to Democratic acquiescence. Our daily reminder that the problem we are facing has roots much deeper than the 2016 election...
Trump’s coming dragnet
Threatening to arrest and deport “millions” of unauthorized immigrants in the country, the Trump administration seems poised to unleash large scale raids in communities around the country. From Washington Post (reprinted in Texas Tribune):
Trump and Mark Morgan, the acting director of ICE, talked several times in recent weeks about the operation, including as recently as this weekend. But senior White House and immigration officials did not know the president planned to announce it on Twitter, a senior White House official said Tuesday, and many felt it was detracting from the launch of the campaign. But Trump is eager to appear that he is making progress on immigration and remains fixated on the issue, advisers say.
The sensitive plan is aimed at sweeping up and deporting thousands of migrant family members in major U.S. cities who were ordered to leave the country after their cases were evaluated by immigration judges. Department of Homeland Security officials say the arrests are at the heart of their attempts to deter Central American families from making the journey north.
On Tuesday, current and former ICE officials acknowledged that Trump’s unexpected tweet had blown the cover off the plan, and they predicted that would-be deportees could scatter from known addresses in the coming days, diminishing the agency’s chances for success. Lawmakers and immigrant advocates expressed alarm and outrage at the possibility that ICE would go forward with the plan, which risks separating parents and children as agents fan out to knock on doors and make mass arrests.
ICE declined to say whether Trump’s tweets referred to a specific operation in the works, but U.S. officials acknowledged privately that they are preparing to move forward with their long-planned blitz to take thousands of families into custody.
The target of the mass enforcement actions seems to be people who have received removal orders but are likely still in the country. The only information available in these cases are addresses where court orders were mailed. Such an operation would cover thousands of people, and these would be community enforcement operations with agents literally knocking on doors, generating tremendous fear in neighborhoods around the country. The cities with the most likely targets for enforcement are Houston, Miami and Atlanta. It is clear that the operation will not reach anywhere near the millions Trump spoke of in his tweet - the largest number of deportations in a year was 400,000 during Obama’s tenure in 2012, nearly half of these border deportations. Currently, the Trump administration is deporting 7,000 a month from interior enforcement actions - significantly less than Obama’s administration during its peak.
Court Bans ICE from exercising arrests in state courts
In one bit of good news this week, federal court in Boston issued an injunction blocking Immigration and Customs Enforcement from engaging in arrests during court proceedings. From the Boston Herald:
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani, an Obama appointee, issued her preliminary injunction Thursday banning Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from any “civil immigration actions inside courthouses.”
Talwani’s injunction gives Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan a big victory. They filed a federal lawsuit in April seeking to boot immigration officers from district courts, arguing that ICE’s practice of intercepting criminal defendants who are illegal immigrants could have a chilling effect on migrant communities’ involvement with the law.
The Boston-based federal judge’s order states that ICE agents cannot civilly arrest “parties, witnesses, and others attending Massachusetts courthouses on official business while they are going to, attending, or leaving the courthouse.”
The judge is allowing ICE agents to seize “individuals brought to the courthouse in state or federal custody.”