Jul 23, 2019

Trump's ICE raids fall flat

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Judging by the numbers alone, the much-touted ICE raids were far from a success.

By the numbers: There were 35 arrests over the pair of raids this year, out of a target list of 2,000 people, per AP. 650 arrests took place in one long weekend of raids in 2017.

The big picture: In the past week, the Trump administration has all but blocked Central Americans from asylum, rolled out a rule that would allow officials to deport more unauthorized immigrants without a court hearing and reportedly discussed lowering the refugee cap to near zero, Axios' Stef Kight notes.

  • Through it all, President Trump has been tweeting at U.S. citizens in Congress to "go back," along with eagerly previewing the raids.

But the resistance to these tactics is yielding results.

  • Immigrant rights activists used the heads up to push “know-your-rights” campaigns in cities like Houston, New York and Chicago, the AP reports.
  • "To inform the public, they used hotlines, text networks, workshops, social media and promoted a smartphone app that notifies family members in case of an arrest."

Between the lines: Even without measurable results, the raids have a pronounced effect on communities with large immigrant populations.

  • On the first weekend, "some immigrant-heavy churches had noticeably lower attendance and attributed the fear of stepped up enforcement."
  • "Businesses in immigrant-heavy neighborhoods, including in Chicago, Atlanta and Miami, also reported very light traffic."

The bottom line: Trump is running a campaign based on immigration restrictions, but lags behind Barack Obama in deportations — so expect even more crackdowns in the near future.

Go deeper: Trump will make it harder for Central Americans to get asylum

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680 immigrants arrested in Mississippi ICE raids

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers gather for a debriefing after operations in 2018. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

680 immigrants were arrested Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at 7 food processing plants in small towns in Mississippi, the AP reports.

Why it matters: ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence said these could be the largest workplace raids ICE has had in more than a decade, and likely the biggest for any single state, per the AP. This comes just a few weeks after ICE raids that reportedly targeted thousands of immigrants resulted in just 35 arrests. ICE detention facilities still hold thousands more migrants than Congress has approved funding for.

Report: Trump Organization employed undocumented construction workers

Trump at his Bedminster golf course in 2017. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump Organization has employed a group of Latin American construction workers — some undocumented — to build features at its properties around the eastern U.S. for almost two decades, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters, via Axios' Rashaan Ayesh: President Trump has made fighting illegal immigration a core part of his presidency and 2020 re-election campaign, but multiple reports over the past year have revealed that his businesses likely benefitted from cheap, undocumented labor. Friday's Post report comes just days after ICE raids in Mississippi resulted in the arrests of 680 immigrants, separating families and stoking fear in immigrant communities across the country, per the AP.

Go deeper: Trump Organization under investigation for not paying undocumented workers

Trump turning away victims of violence and trafficking

Data: USCIS, DOJ, RPC; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The Trump administration is making it harder for immigrants fleeing violence, persecution and trafficking to stay in the U.S., in the name of getting tough on fraud.

The big picture: There are always cases of fraud in the immigration system, and not everyone who applies for asylum or the T visa, which is for victims of human trafficking, is eligible. But since Trump took office, visa denial rates for asylum and T visas have skyrocketed while the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. has plummeted.

Go deeperArrowJul 26, 2019