Mass raids announced for weekend didn’t happen...yet
July 15, 2019
Much anticipated raids threatened by the Trump administration did not begin this weekend. The administration had been threatening to launch a large scale operation targeting 2,000 or more people in families that have been issued final removal orders. By targeting families, the operation was intended to send a message to deter people from coming to the United States to seek asylum. The raids will still likely happen at some point, possibly even this week. The latest tweet threats had indicated the raids would start Sunday and run through Thursday.
It is unusual for the administration to announce such actions in advance. While it makes little operational sense, the fear that has spread in the weeks since Trump first threatened to deport “millions” is real enough. On Sunday, in immigrant communities around the country, people stayed home, hoping to avoid any encounters with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Part of the fear is born from experience with ICE raids - where agents pick up anybody they can, not simply the individuals for whom they have warrants (if they have warrants).
A final point worth mentioning, is that ICE did not exactly take the weekend off. Agents routinely round up people on a daily basis, currently removing 7-8,000 people a month. The talk of when the raids will begin, then, is somewhat misplaced, as they have been going on for a long time. This particular operation is larger than most - and I suspect Trump relishes the media attention and fear they are generating. But ICE is out in our communities every day looking for people to arrest and deport.
However, Trump did just try gut our asylum laws
While the media inquires about what happened to the raids, Trump’s administration actually did do something on asylum - that if allowed to stand would make it almost impossible for the vast majority of people seeking asylum at the southern border to apply. From CBS News:
According to a new rule published in the Federal Register, asylum seekers who pass through another country first will be ineligible for asylum at the U.S. southern border. The rule, expected to go into effect on Tuesday, also applies to children who have crossed the border alone. The new rule will affect asylum seekers coming through Mexico from countries like Guatemala and El Salvador.
There are some exceptions: If someone has been trafficked, if the country the migrant passed through did not sign one of the major international treaties that govern how refugees are managed (though most Western countries have signed them) or if an asylum-seeker sought protection in a country but was denied, then a migrant could still apply for U.S. asylum.
The new rule will certainly face legal challenges - but is the most draconian effort to kill asylum claims I can remember. In effect, only people from Mexico would be allowed to seek asylum at the southern border (the rate of approval for asylum requests from Mexico is very low). This would impact tens of thousands of people from Central America, but also people from all over the world who travel long distances to get to the U.S. southern border to seek asylum - including people from Haiti, Cameroon, Cuba and many other countries.