Despite resistance from Democrats and hysterical accusations about the administration's policy of running 'concentration camps' at the Southern border, the Trump Administration carried out its long-planned immigration raids last week. Unfortunately, the raids weren't as successful as ICE might have hoped, which is probably why the administration didn't go out of its way to publicize the results.
But somehow, the New York Times got its hands on the numbers, reportedly leaked by senior Homeland Security officials who may or may not have an axe to grind. This is what the paper reported: Out of 2,105 migrants targeted in more than a dozen cities, ICE succeeded in arresting 35.
That's a success rate of just over 1.6%.
Officials privately blamed the flop on the fact that President Trump gave the raids - which he named Operation Border Resolve - so much publicity. The operation was planned as a "show of strength" amid the continuing crisis at the border, even as the number of arrests and the number of people crossing the border has retreated slightly since the highs reached in the spring.
For example, Trump warned that the raids would target migrants who had received final deportation orders, but who had not reported to ICE to begin the deportation process. These migrants then had weeks - thanks to repeated delays - to consult immigration lawyers, turn to the help of nonprofit groups or temporarily leave their homes for periods of time to evade arrest.
Pro-immigration non-profit groups leapt into action, and started counseling families about their rights and advised them on tactics to avoid ICE, such as refusing to open their doors for ICE agents. They also established a network of volunteers who gathered information on ICE agent sightings and shared it on social media.
In an interview Monday, the acting head of ICE, Matthew Albence, acknowledged the low number of arrests. Albence blamed the social justice warriors and others for making it "harder for us to effectuate these orders."
"I don’t know of any other population where people are telling them how to avoid arrest as a result of illegal activity," he said. "It certainly makes it harder for us to effectuate these orders issued."
He also appeared to obliquely criticize President Trump for giving the operation so much publicity.
"You didn’t hear ICE talking about it before the operation was taking place," he added.
The 35 people arrested over the weekend are among more than 900 arrested since mid-May in an operation called Operation Cross Check.
Since the vast majority of illegal migrants don't show up for immigration court hearings, Albence said that typically, when migrants receive final deportation notices, they ignore the orders and go into hiding.
Albence also revealed that ICE has been cracking down on employers of illegal migrants as part of a "multipronged approach."
"Part of our goal is to reduce economic opportunities," Mr. Albence said. "We cannot have individuals who come into the country illegally and then go find work illegally."
Albence said ICE had begun conducting "payroll audits," requiring companies to submit their I-9 payroll information for review.
Despite the low number of arrests, DHS officials told NYT that this won't be the last raid under Operation Border Resolve: More raids are expected before the end of the month.