Emails Show ICE Couldn't Find Enough Dangerous Immigrants To Fulfill The Adminstration's Fantasies

from the Operation-Goalpost-Relocation dept

When you’ve got an official narrative to deliver, you need everyone to pitch in to keep it from falling apart. No one can say ICE didn’t try. The Trump administration — bolstered by supporting statements conjecture from DOJ and DHS officials — has portrayed undocumented immigrants as little more than nomadic thugs. Unfortunately, there’s hardly any evidence available to back up the assertion that people here illegally are more likely to commit serious criminal acts.

Back in February, shortly after Trump handed down immigration-focused executive orders, ICE went all in on arresting undocumented visitors and immigrants. Included in this push was a focus on so-called “sanctuary cities” like Austin, Texas, which had vowed to push back against Trump’s anti-immigrant actions.

Emails obtained by The Intercept show ICE doing all it can to prop up Trump’s “dangerous criminal” stereotyping. Unfortunately, despite all of its efforts, ICE failed to come across many dangerous criminals during its February sweeps.

On February 10, as the raids kicked off, an ICE executive in Washington sent an “URGENT” directive to the agency’s chiefs of staff around the country. “Please put together a white paper covering the three most egregious cases,” for each location, the acting chief of staff of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations wrote in the email.

It’s a good starting point, especially if the administration is relying on you to back up its assertions. ICE was willing to go the extra mile to do just that, apparently.

“If a location has only one egregious case — then include an extra egregious case from another city.”

This is an interesting ploy: cannibalizing nearby cities’ reporting in order to present some semblance of an “egregious case” immigrant nightmare –one that would need to be stripped of redundancy before final presentation.

Unfortunately for ICE agents, you can’t make something out nothing. Three cases per city proved to be almost impossible. Many raids failed to uncover even one egregious case. With the clock ticking down, some ICE offices decided to grab “egregious cases” completely unrelated to the current operation.

In February 11, an official responded to a colleague’s list of egregious cases by pointing out that they were unrelated to the ongoing operation. “The arrest dates are before any operation and even before the EO’s. What is up with these cases?” the official wrote.

What’s up with those cases is there were almost zero new cases to report to the man upstairs. Hundreds of arrests were made, but many involved people with no prior criminal record. In the remaining arrests, most of the priors found were minor violations, with the worst being drunk driving.

Not exactly the “public safety threat” the Trump administration had promised. When it became clear the “egregious case” reports might total only a handful of serious criminal offenses from hundreds of arrests nationwide, ICE quickly applied its own spin.

As criticism escalated, ICE shifted to downplaying the operation as “no different than the routine,” telling reporters that the raids were the same “targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis,” and suggesting off the record that claims to the opposite were “false, dangerous, and irresponsible.” As it became clear that dozens of individuals with no criminal history had been apprehended, ICE shifted gears and told reporters that in addition to targeting safety threats, the raids were always meant to target those whose only crimes were immigration-related, like re-entering the U.S. after deportation…

By spinning it this way, ICE can pay needed lip service to the administration’s “dangerous immigrants” narrative and portray the lack of egregious cases as the result of the banal day-to-day work of immigration enforcement. But in doing so, it undercuts the narrative it’s trying to serve. If there are so many dangerous criminals out there, why isn’t ICE focused on them, rather than dozens of people whose only criminal act is a lack of documentation? ICE can’t have it both ways. Neither can the White House.

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Comments on “Emails Show ICE Couldn't Find Enough Dangerous Immigrants To Fulfill The Adminstration's Fantasies”

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70 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

1) "during its February sweeps" -- is a limited data set

for new policy, proving nothing except that (your) intent is to downplay the start as if that’s all even possible

2) “almost zero **new** cases” — your emphasis, slyly omitting those already listed and needing caught

3) “people whose only criminal act is a lack of documentation” — are criminals

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 1) "during its February sweeps" -- is a limited data set

Yet again, Techdirt show it’s for unlimited immigration. — At least in the US and Europe. Techdirt never writes about Israel’s essentially Jews-only policy, nor its apartheid system literal walling off more than half of those born in Israel!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 1) "during its February sweeps" -- is a limited data set

Not sure what Israel has to do about Techdirt but I have been following that for many years. Suicide bombings where why the walls went up and since then, bombings have dropped considerably. That solved the problem, I don’t agree with it but there wasn’t a better option. I don’t think the conflict will ever be fixed. Whenever an inch is given, it isn’t long before someone regrets it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 1) " during its February sweeps " -- is a limited data set

The problem was clearly stated as suicide bombings. These were events where Palestinian terrorists would carry bombs to groups of Israeli civilians, and then set off the bomb. The goal was to indiscriminately murder as many civilians as possible. Clearly any civilized and moral society would not accept this, but instead of condemning and trying to stop this, the Palestinian government encouraged this by paying the families of the terrorists, and often held rallies or named civic features after them (and still does). The walls and other defensive measures were a reaction to these and other similar attacks. Palestinian government sanctioned attacks on Israeli civilians continue to this day, with the construction of tunnels designed to bypass the walls and allow terrorists access to Israeli civilians. There are also frequent attacks in the form of rockets aimed randomly from Palestinian areas into Israel. So while there may be more than one problem in the area, the primary one is clearly the continuing Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israel- almost all of the other problems people like you whine about descend from that. If you fail to condemn those attacks, you fail to have any moral grounds to condemn any actions by Israel.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 1) " during its February sweeps " -- is a limited data set

Your question is irrelevant to this discussion and misleading. Israel was created by a U.N. mandate, and is completely legal. You don’t get to pick and choose which laws are legal. As the flipside of this, have you questioned the morality of the Arab countries which expelled their native Jewish populations when Israel was created? Note that these people had nothing to do with Israel. Are you outraged by this, or not really because it happened to Jews?
As for your ‘slaughter in far greater numbers’ snipe, can you clarify exactly what you mean? Are you referring to the number of terrorists killed while attacking Israeli civilians? Because Israel has an absolute right to self defense there. For example, it doesn’t matter if a dozen terrorists attack me, I have a right to kill all of them to defend myself regardless of their numbers. Or are you referring to when the Israeli military has to go into Palestinian territories as a response to terrorist attacks? How can you ignore the multitude of documented human rights violations committed by the Palestinians and choose to condemn Israel? You must have absolutely no morals or be incredibly ignorant.

bt says:

Re: Re: Re:5 1) " during its February sweeps " -- is a limited data set

Israel was created by the UN, so there. That settles it, we must abide by the dictates of the UN, end of discussion.

And Israel has ignored countless UN resolutions condemning the treatment of the “natives”. Oh wait, that’s anti-Semitism, the world can go piss off.

It’s always like this with Israel: Whatever they do is justified, legal and super-good and moral. Anyone who criticizes or fights back is an anti-Semite, or worse.

If you are a Palestinian fighting for your rights, they might just kill you. And when you fight back, you are a terrorist and now they will take the rest of your land from you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 1) " during its February sweeps " -- is a limited data set

“Israel was created by the UN, so there. That settles it, we must abide by the dictates of the UN, end of discussion.”

And do you hold dictatorial control over things you give to others as well?

“It’s always like this with Israel: Whatever they do is justified, legal and super-good and moral. Anyone who criticizes or fights back is an anti-Semite, or worse.”

Israel is like every other nation on earth, it does what it thinks is necessary to survive. There is no other nation on this planet without blame, but I do notice that there are a lot of people picking on this one a great deal.

If Israel should do what the UN says, end of story, then so should every other nation.

“If you are a Palestinian fighting for your rights, they might just kill you.”

I bet you would not hold this same view in other areas of the world. What about the rights of criminals to peddle drugs? What about the rights of doctors to peddle their wares without regulation? What about others rights to be free of slavery, or sexual discrimination, or tyrannical government.

Name any place on the planet where you can fight back against a government without being called a terrorist. If you are busy singling a nation out over this, it is pretty clear you have bias. A freedom fighter is a terrorist somewhere.

ralph_the_bus_driver (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 1) " during its February sweeps " -- is a limited data set

“”If you are a Palestinian fighting for your rights, they might just kill you.”

I bet you would not hold this same view in other areas of the world. What about the rights of criminals to peddle drugs? “

Are you serious? Instead of a rant, I’ll just ask if you are familiar with the term, “false equivalence”.

Many years ago, I believe it was the early 1990s, I remember a stark headline in the newspaper that brought it home for me. They were keeping score on the number of killed. It was something like 800 Palestinians killed and 2 Israelis. When it got to 1,000, a third Israeli died. Wow, 1,000 to three. Ya.

Then there was the time the Israelis dropped a 500kg bomb on an apartment building because they thought a member of the PLO leadership lived there. He wasn’t home but 16 Palestinians that were lost their lives. Was this hombre a bad guy? Well, he did travel to other countries trying to get support for Palestinians.

So fighting back against a government? The Israelis aren’t governing the Palestinians. They are the lords and masters over a conquered territory.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: 1) "during its February sweeps" -- is a limited data set

We all know that people who violate the law are criminal by definition. However, it is clearly the point that xenophobes like teh Prez and his ilk are always trying to hold up these people as dangerous thugs, murderers, rapists, drug smugglers, whatever. The results here are twofold: They are not finding many of these people as having any other criminal records or tendencies whatsoever, and neither is this policy helping to catch dangerous criminals (as if immigration status has anything to do with that). This program is not going to be shoving any more MS-13 members into cruisers roughly, causing contusions to the head. That would be normal police work, which the police have failed to do since forever, as they are too busy looking for work-free ways to accomplish “investigations”, and too busy violating everyone else’s rights.

One may be for more freedom of movement, or one can be anti-immigration, or simply be mad about illegal border crossing. However, that isn’t the point here. Everyone gets it, you aren’t saying anything revolutionary. You are simply being a poor apologist for a bullshit program. Good for you that you like the result anyway.

Of course, if ICE and friends would get the fuck off their asses and check where immigrants (and contraband) actually enter the country – in the back of tractor trailers – well then you would have less illegal crossings and imports, and probably less dead people. But no, it’s more fun to unreasonably harass individuals in cars or dick around with helicopters in the desert. What ever will they do for kicks when they build their environmental disaster wall?

Anonymous Coward says:

Hypocrisy as per usual.

You are bitching about one stereotype…

“Emails obtained by The Intercept show ICE doing all it can to prop up Trump’s “dangerous criminal” stereotyping.”

while using another…

“Included in this push was a focus on so-called “sanctuary cities” like Austin, Texas, which had vowed to push back against Trump’s anti-immigrant actions.”

As long as you keep using them, you have no standing to be complaining about others using them.

These cities have publicly announced that they will be flouting the law, they get what they get that same as the Trump admin should get and Obama admin should have gotten when they did the same.

We can’t get through one news story about immigration without those on both sides being nothing but stupendous hypocrites about almost everything!

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

These cities have publicly announced that they will be flouting the law

There’s a thing called ‘separation of powers’ built into the constitution that backs them up, you should read up on it.

The Trump Administration has essentially zero options to crack down on sanctuary cities due to past legal precedents limiting executive power (including some rulings that happened under the Obama administration). They could try to, but the sanctuary cities are almost certainly going to triumph in court if they do.

If you think it’s garbage that the courts will side with the cities over the federal government, well, this is one of the problems in operating under such an old constitution that was written by people who feared a strong central government. That’s why the federal government is weaker then most national governments if you compare our system to other nation’s democracies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I am okay with States doing this.

All I care about is people actually following the law, especially the government itself.

We can change the law too, but we cannot support other people breaking it just because it fits your political agenda, the moment you do that you are the same quality of a street brigand and server violet revolution to put you down.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I take it you are a “law ‘n order” type of person, should people be forced to do things they find reprehensible simply because the law says they have to? At what point is it ok for one to disobey a law because said law is wrong? As a citizen, one has a responsibility to provide feedback, but that is now illegal to do?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The cities do not have that authority. The states are the ones with it, there is a BIG difference.

In the United States, cities are state agencies, chartered by the state, which can delegate whatever authority they have. That’s the legal principle that made it unconstitutional for cities to (for instance) discriminate against members of ethnic groups: the Supreme Court reasoning being: the state didn’t have that power and therefore couldn’t delegate it to any of its agencies.

Similarly in the Chattanooga City ISP case–the Supreme Court ruled that Tennessee could delegate whatever powers it wished to the city, and the state chose (no matter how foolishly) not to delegate the right to provide internet service outside certain geographical boundaries.

Both of these decisions might appear odd unless you grasp the basic legal premise.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“That’s why the federal government is weaker then most national governments if you compare our system to other nation’s democracies.”

There is NO democracy alive today. Why do you keep using that word? Trump would not have been voted into office if we were a democracy. Not even our presidential elections are democratic! We have an electoral college, your state does not even have to allow you to vote for a president at all! You have no constitutional right to vote for president.

Now, if I had the power, I would love to give you an actual democracy, I would take joy in you watching you destroy yourselves, I would only suck to see your children die in the bloodbath that would follow in the folly of your ignorance and foolishness!

Democracies commit suicide, that is all they are capable of. The ignorance of the masses… basically people like you cannot be overcome in a democracy.

Like someone famous once said…

Democracy is two wolves and one lamb deciding what is for lunch.

Matthew Cline (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

1) Are you the one who previously claimed that voters in the U.S. don’t even have any indirect control over who gets elected?

2) If so, did the Founding Fathers intend it that way?

3) If the answer to #2 is "yes", why did they set up ways to have elections? Surely there’s other ways to ensure that offices of state aren’t inherited.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

On #1.

Don’t know what was claimed but if you read what they said and know anything about the election process you will learn two things.

The voters have direct control over who gets elected and no, it is not democratic because the system was setup to specifically prevent that.

this leads to #2, yes the Founding fathers intended that, because almost all of them hated “democracies” because it is nothing more than a tyranny of the majority over the minority which would soon cause a nation to commit suicide.

On #3. They made that clear. “Eternal Vigilance” and per George Washington, stop with the political parties.

In our ignorance we are throwing our own country away just to spite those we disagree with. I do not think that we will find a solution to this problem because ignorance is the only winner here. And since the only back and forth is a bunch of mean spirited words people have long sense left any semblance of civility and would immediately refuse the truth the moment it showed up because it would reveal something bad about their own group and that is untenable. It is better to perish in ignorance than to admit you had it wrong.

Matthew Cline (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The voters have direct control over who gets elected and no, it is not democratic because the system was setup to specifically prevent that.

So, then, something is only "democratic" if the voters have direct control, and thus anything where voters have indirect control is explicitly not democratic? If not, what do you mean? If that’s right, then the term "representative democracy" is an oxymoron?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“no standing to be complaining about”

Standing? … like someone needs to prove they have been adversely impacted by something just in order to state their opinion about that something – wow, this is perverse.

What ever happened to States Rights? Oh … I forgot, those are only for enacting racist, sexist, xenophobic legislation.

Shane (profile) says:

Tech Dirt – voice of Communism.

You people are utter trash. No evidence? First off, NO ONE HAS SAID MOST UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS ARE CRIMINALS. We have shown again and again that they undermine domestic labor.

BUILD THE WALL! FIGHT Foreign Exchange Market ABUSE! END THE FED!

Seriously, why is TECH dirt obsessing over PROMOTING ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. You are nothing but a bunch of partisan hacks!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

NO ONE HAS SAID MOST UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS ARE CRIMINALS

Really? What was it that donald said ….. hmmmm, here’s one. I guess you are arguing that he did not mean “most”. Weak sauce.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

two things, undocumented aliens is a euphemism for “illegal aliens” they are illegal, therefore “criminals” and rightly labeled that.

“They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Well that is true by virtue of bringing crime by entering illegally, and some have been documented to actually be rapists, but they are also meaningless statements, Trump is clearly fear mongering here, because we also “raise” our criminal and rapists too. We gonna kill all the kids before they prove they can be bad?

But I think the problem here is that some of you hate that the other side is fear mongering about things. Well stop your side from doing it first… hah… that’s right… not gonna happen.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

We have shown again and again that they undermine domestic labor.

 

You have?

Most articles I’ve read on the subject indicate that areas with robust immigration tend to spur economic growth which in turn creates more jobs for domestic workers.

https://www.google.com/search?q=immigration+and+economic+growth

Here’s a letter from almost 1,500 economists (you know, the people who really understand this issue from an economics point of view) stating that immigration is an overall positive to our economy, with the possible exception of the uneducated domestic workers. Maybe we should focus on educating our domestic workforce, instead of blaming those who immigrate here and are making our country a better place for everyone.

http://www.newamericaneconomy.org/feature/an-open-letter-from-1470-economists-on-immigration/

Anonymous Coward says:

You guys really are pushing your fan base with this dribble.

Living in California, I been run into by these illegals on more than one occasion. Once you get through the no comprendo and my father’s brother’s cousin can fix it reeeal cheeeap routines, you find they have no insurance or license. It prompted me to buy the higher grade uninsured motorist coverage.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is just equivocating. All the fear mongering around the need to keep out and to round up illegal immigrants is focused on the perceived negative affects that are a result of crimes committed after they are here. Stop trying to confuse things based on a technicality of a word when you should know that that is not what is meant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“This is just equivocating.”

They are statements of facts. Your attempts to muddy the facts are a failure. The illegal entry alone is a criminal act as per codified law.

If this law is okay to break what about the others? If you agree that breaking the law is okay when your politics are being served what say you if another politics you hate begin to break the law? When do you have a right to accuse them of criminality when you give others a pass on it as well?

Do you not think they will not notice your double standard and view you as an opponent with no reason?

In many ways, you are inversely justifying Trumps false claims by making false claims of your own in combat to them.

KeillRandor (profile) says:

Re: illegal immigrants are illegal...

Yes illegal immigrants are illegal (for a reason).

But that’s not what truly matters. Why? Because if the country benefits from it, then the only problem is with the illegality, not the immigration.

This entire matter is PURELY one of economics, than then can also involve additional issues and context, (as it always has been) – and anyone who tries to deal with it purely as anything else, e.g. as a matter of xenophobia, racism etc. will cause more problems than they solve – hence the issues here.

When dealing with illegal immigrants, there are only a few things that matter:

Is the country benefiting from their presence? If so, how, and maybe WHO is doing so?

What other problems have they brought with them and are causing?

Does the cost of removing them from the country outweigh the benefits of them being here? THIS is the biggest issue. The problems factor on both sides, though – many individuals benefit from both sides – some from keeping them, some from removing them, irrespective of the overall country’s benefit. Obviously it doesn’t help matters if there is NO punishment (compared to legal immigrants) – the problem is figuring out the best way of doing that while still getting the most economic benefit from their presence, (so long as they’re not guilty of anything more egregious, so economics becomes secondary).

So, on the one hand we have illegal immigrants being exploited for labour (esp. farm/domestic workers), yet on the other we have people who benefit from removing them, and the war between these two factions is what is causing all the problems.

And so the most beneficial solution for the COUNTRY, while still respecting human rights etc., is the hardest to find – a way of punishing illegal immigration whilst gaining the most benefit from their presence as a nation. If illegal immigrants had no economic role to play, most of them wouldn’t have immigrated in the first place – for most, a better life = a job to support a home/family etc..

takitus (profile) says:

Confirm our fantasy!

The ridiculous argument “illegal immigrants have broken the law, therefore they are criminals, therefore they are dangerous” seems to have supporters among the authors of some unfortunate on this page. If a government states that “any person caught north of n° North latitude will be considered a criminal”, that decision may carry legal weight. But, as Tim’s article indicates, it has little bearing on whether that person is more or less likely to hurt others.

Hundreds of arrests were made, but many involved people with no prior criminal record. In the remaining arrests, most of the priors found were minor violations, with the worst being drunk driving.

In other words, basically what you’d expect from arresting a sample of humans of arbitrary immigration status anywhere on the planet. But people who apparently live in a simple, self-flattering universe need to transform this into some sort of grave danger.

"The US will be a glorious place as soon as we get rid of those violent illegal immigrants causing all of our crime!

(Now let’s go fabricate data showing illegal immigrants are the cause all of our crime.)"

takitus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Confirm our fantasy!

To paraphrase a Techdirt mantra: “Growing cultures innovate. Declining cultures legislate.”

Any country that would prefer to get rid of immigrants regardless of whether “they are violent or not, … if they help the country or not” is clearly on a declining path. Laws that require a country to deport citizens who (clearly!) want very much to be here should be changed.

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