Former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and immigration official Ronald Vitiello blocked a White House plan for a large 10-city raid to deport thousands of migrants here illegally, according to the Washington Post.
According to seven current and former Department of Homeland Security officials, the administration wanted to target the crush of families that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after the president’s failed “zero tolerance” prosecution push in early 2018. The ultimate purpose, the officials said, was a show of force to send the message that the United States was going to get tough by swiftly moving to detain and deport recent immigrants — including families with children.
The sprawling operation included an effort to fast-track immigration court cases, allowing the government to obtain deportation orders against those who did not show for their hearings — officials said 90 percent of those targeted were found deportable in their absence. The subsequent arrests would have required coordinated raids against parents with children in their homes and neighborhoods.
However, the plan was stopped by Nielsen and Vitello. The duo was concerned about an unprepared DHS, public outrage and about diverting resources from the border. DHS officials say the objections were more based on logistics and not ethical concerns with arresting families.
“There was concern that it was being hastily put together, would be ineffective and might actually backfire by misdirecting resources away from critical border emergency response operations,” said one anonymous DHS official.
Trump was not happy and anonymous sources say that it was a factor in Trump’s decisions to can the two officials. Yet another anonymous official told the WaPo that:
[Their] objections reflected a deeper concern that the White House was pushing a shock-and-awe operation designed for show, but lacking in deliberative planning and research.
Vitiello“didn’t think it was a good idea,” said one DHS official with knowledge of the discussions.
“Both he and Nielsen instinctively thought it was bad policy and that the proposal was less than half-baked,” the official said.
Another official rejected the idea that the plan wasn’t ready to go, saying it had been in the works for a year saying that the government had tried to contact the targeted migrants but they did not show up for their hearings.
(Photo by David Peinado/NurPhoto via Getty Images)