Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Operative Word Being “Blitz”

From the Washington Post:

In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities.

According to seven current and former Department of Homeland Security officials, the administration wanted to target the crush of families that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after the president’s failed “zero tolerance” prosecution push in early 2018. The ultimate purpose, the officials said, was a show of force to send the message that the United States was going to get tough by swiftly moving to detain and deport recent immigrants — including families with children.

The sprawling operation included an effort to fast-track immigration court cases, allowing the government to obtain deportation orders against those who did not show for their hearings — officials said 90 percent of those targeted were found deportable in their absence. The subsequent arrests would have required coordinated raids against parents with children in their homes and neighborhoods.

But Vitiello and Nielsen halted it, concerned about a lack of preparation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the risk of public outrage and worries that it would divert resources from the border.

Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller and ICE Deputy Director Matthew Albence were especially supportive of the plan, officials said, eager to execute dramatic, highly visible mass arrests that they argued would help deter the soaring influx of families.

The arrests were planned for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and the other largest U.S. destinations for Central American migrants. Though some of the cities are considered “sanctuary” jurisdictions with police departments that do not cooperate with ICE, the plan did not single out those locations, officials said.

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations branch had an initial target list of 2,500 adults and children, but the plan, which remains under consideration, was viewed as a first step toward arresting as many as 10,000 migrants. The vast majority of families who have crossed the border in the past 18 months seeking asylum remain in the country, awaiting a court date or in defiance of deportation orders.

You don’t have to be a history buff or a fan of movies like “Schindler’s List” or even “X-Men” to understand the parallels to certain other events like this in history to know that it does not end well.

Lest you think that then-Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen had a twinge of morality or saw the glaring reference to Europe in the 1940’s, rest assured that her qualms were about logistics, not human rights.

DHS officials said the objections Vitiello and Nielsen raised regarding the targeted “at large” arrests were mostly operational and logistical and not as a result of ethical concerns about arresting families an immigration judge had ordered to be deported.

Nielsen and others also worried that a massive effort to deport parents and children would detract from the Trump administration’s stated goal of going after “criminal aliens.”

“The proposal was nowhere near ready for prime time,” the official said, which is why DHS senior leaders blocked the White House. “They wanted 10 cities, thousands of targets.”

Officials at ICE and DHS declined to comment, and Vitiello and Nielsen did not respond to requests for comment. Miller declined to comment through a White House spokesman.

But administration officials who described the plan said Vitiello and Nielsen’s pushback was a factor in President Trump’s decision to oust both officials — particularly Vitiello.

The president has been livid about the number of unauthorized border-crossers being released into the U.S. interior, and he has repeatedly urged his aides to take the “toughest” approach possible.

Of course.  What are we going to do with all these… people?  Hey, maybe put them all in one place, and while were at it, get them to do some work, y’know, to keep them occupied. Pay them? Are you kidding?  We’re feeding them and housing them and even giving them clothes; don’t those striped outfits look nice?  Oh, and just to make sure that if they somehow get away, make them all wear a badge or something so everyone else can easily identify them in a crowd….

But raising these kinds of questions only gets in the way.

Miller has told the president that some members of his administration don’t have his best interests at heart, and that they are too worried about their own reputations to carry out his agenda effectively, according to current and former administration officials.

The president’s supporters also have been urging him to wield a firm hand.

Speaking on “Fox and Friends” on Thursday, Vitiello’s predecessor at ICE, Tom Homan, said the agency should “do operationally what Congress has failed to do legislatively.”

“ICE needs to do a nationwide operation,” Homan said. “Look for family units and single adults who had their day in court or didn’t show up in court and [were] ordered removed by a federal judge,” he said. “If those orders don’t mean anything, if those orders aren’t executed, there is no integrity to our system.”

Reading that, why do I get the feeling he was this close to saying something about finding a “final solution”?

Lest you think I’m skating too close to Godwin’s Law wherein everything devolves to comparison to a certain regime in central Europe of the 1930’s, remember that fearmongering, then rounding up and detaining “undesirables” and “aliens” is one of the first things authoritarians do to instill fear, loathing, and maintain control.  If it can happen to them, it could happen to you, so watch your step, shut your mouth, and here, wear this red cap just to fit in.

We’re this close.