Likely due to a month of leaked warnings and an aggressive education campaign by immigrant attorneys and advocates, the planned raids this month on immigrant families by Immigration and Customs Enforcement appear to have been a grand failure.
In San Francisco, word went out first on June 21, then again on July 11, after President Trump delayed planned raids in 10 cities at the urging of House Democrats — and after an alert about the raids was leaked from within the government to the national press, twice. Sources indicated that around 2,000 migrants, primarily those recently arrived in the country and who had allegedly been sent deportation notices, would be targeted for immediate removal.
But as the New York Times reports today, three sources including two current Department of Homeland Security officials confirmed that only 35 arrests were successfully made by ICE — less than two percent of the 2,105 people ICE reportedly had on its list of deportation targets. Of those, 17 were members of families who had cross the border together, and 18 were "so-called collateral apprehensions of undocumented people," meaning that ICE may have only succeeded in locating less than one percent of those they had on their list.
Early indications after the weekend when the raids were said to be occurring suggested that the effort was not being executed with the aggression that Trump had initially implied. The Times had one first-hand account of an immigrant family in New Jersey who avoided arrest by hiding in their home with the lights off and refusing to answer the door after two late-night raid attempts by ICE. It's unclear how often scenarios like that played out across the country, but it seems fairly clear that advance warning and legal advice spread by immigrants' rights attorneys likely played a role in impeding arrests.
As acting ICE director Matthew Albence complains to the Times, "I don’t know of any other population where people are telling them how to avoid arrest as a result of illegal activity."
Many opponents of the raids have pointed out that the extent of the "illegal activity" committed by the majority of these migrants was crossing the border, and that many do so in order to flee dangerous situations in their home countries.
The Times points out today that the Trump administration has, on a whole, deported far fewer people than the Obama administration did. The new administration deported deported 226,625 people in 2017, and 256,086 people last year, while Obama deported an all-time high of 409,849 people in 2012, and 235,413 in 2015, for example. And while the Obama administration targeted those people with criminal records and those who had crossed the border illegally multiple times, the Trump administration has boosted its numbers by conducting I-9 raids on businesses and deporting immigrants who are regularly employed.
Meanwhile, here in SF, the ACLU is suing ICE after it reportedly arrested 22-year-old Jose Omar Bello Reyes in retribution for reading a poem critical of ICE at a public meeting. And the East Bay Times reported Sunday that ICE has been using Oakland Airport as a staging ground for deportation charter flights for the last decade, despite Oakland's sanctuary city status.
Previously: So What Happened To Those ICE Raids?