Secret White House Plan to Detain 10,000 Migrants Revealed

Credit: cloverphoto

(Español) The previous heads of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vetoed a plan which would have involved a mass detention operation across ten cities in the United States, totaling potentially 10,000 detainees, including families and children. Then secretary of DHS Kirstjen Nielsen and acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello openly challenged a secret White House plan that would have seen a major blitz of immigration forces across ten cities in the US rounding up individuals and families who were released into the US after encountering immigration agents at the border and never attended their immigration hearings, or recent entrants who the agencies feel they can put on a fast track for removal. This would mean the judge issued a removal order in their absence and they are legally deportable. The plan came about in September 2018 when President Trump began growing increasingly frustrated with the influx of migrants crossing the southern border. The president’s close advisors, including known-immigration hard-liner Stephen Miller, advised in favor of the plan as a “shock-and-awe” response to the migrant crossings, their hope being this would cause a ripple effect demonstrating the country’s tough approach and willingness to deport families and those with deportation orders (a strategy immigrant rights activists insist does not work). Nielsen and Vitiello, prior to their ousting, remained apprehensive about the plan. They cited concerns regarding the planning and execution of such an endeavor, worrying that such a raid would increase the already high stress load felt by agents at the border. Additionally, Nielsen worried the resulting raids would create a very large and public backlash against the administration that would be difficult to contain. Vitiello raised concerns of US-citizen children being separated from their parents while they were apart from each other and encouraged more reconnaissance by ICE agents. To many insiders, this appeared to be the tipping point for the president who insisted on a tougher approach to the inflow of migrants, and ultimately resulted in Nielsen’s resignation and Vitiello’s name being withdrawn from consideration of being the Senate confirmed ICE director. While the program was never enacted, officials with inside knowledge insist the blitz is still a possibility.