Democrats Braced For Mass Immigration Arrests, But Nothing Ever Came

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Handout via REUTERS

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Democrats across the country mobilized in preparation for President Donald Trump’s immigration raids, but Sunday came and passed with no signs of mass apprehensions.

Democratic politicians and progressive organizations launched a concerted effort to help them avoid arrest upon hearing the news that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would execute a nationwide operation to roundup and deport around 2,000 aliens who ignored court orders to leave the U.S.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, devoted time out of her weekly press conference on Thursday to inform illegal immigrants that, unless a search warrant is present, they do not have to answer the door if an ICE agent comes knocking. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted out a Spanish language instructional pamphlet, encouraging illegal immigrants to call a hotline and report any ICE activity they see.

Mobilization efforts were more intense at the local level. Numerous mayors of major U.S. cities not only announced they would bar their police force from helping federal immigration authorities, but many of them — such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — warned the illegal immigrant community by openly reporting any suspected ICE activity in their jurisdictions. Numerous churches declared themselves “sanctuaries” for those wanting to avoid ICE arrest.

However, by Monday morning, no mention of significant ICE activity ever surfaced. Only small-scale ICE activity reportedly took place Sunday — nothing out of the ordinary for agents who apprehend illegal immigrants on a daily basis.

While several major southern cities were included on ICE’s target list, there were zero reports of ICE arrests on Sunday, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Florida Immigrant Coalition said federal immigration authorities were spotted around the city’s international airport, but no apprehensions reportedly took place.

“Immigrants and immigrant communities all over the country are in hiding and people are living in these terrified, terrorized ways, because that is the point of this whole action, whether enforcement actions take place or not,” Mary Bauer at the Southern Poverty Law Center said to Reuters.

Bauer’s comments, while framed in more harsh terms, were not far off from previous statements made by ICE leadership. A major purpose of the raids, they argued, would be to deter other foreign nationals who are considering illegal emigration to the U.S.

ICE officers detain a suspect as they conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers detain a suspect as they conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on February 7, 2017. Picture taken on February 7, 2017. Courtesy Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via REUTERS

“What’s going to be powerful is we’re going to send the message to the Northern Triangle countries that if you come here, eventually you will still be removed if you’re here illegally,” then-ICE acting Director Mark Morgan said to Hill.TV in June. Morgan, who is now acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, was discussing raids that were supposed to go down that month, but were postponed by the president. (RELATED: Rashida Tlaib Says No Person Is ‘Illegal’)

“The hope is we’re going to disincentivize them from coming here and you’re going to see the numbers come down,” he said.

During a conference call with reporters that same day, Morgan reiterated his position that raids would not only enable the U.S. government to enforce its own laws, but it would discourage illegal immigration altogether.

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