The Trump administration will carry out several high-profile immigration enforcement raids in cities with sanctuary policies. While ICE carries out raids all the time, these raids were apparently leaked to get the maximum political benefit for the president in his re-election campaign.
Most of the targets in the raids will be criminal illegal aliens — those who have been convicted of serious crimes or whose trial is pending. The operations will be in California, Denver, and Philadelphia, and could potentially include other cities and jurisdictions across the country.
The Washington Post first reported about the operations, which could take place as soon as this week in California. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf may travel to at least one of the areas, it said.
“We do not comment on any law enforcement sensitive issues that may adversely impact our officers and the public,” an ICE spokesperson said in a statement. “However, every day as part of routine operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targets and arrests criminal aliens and other individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws.”
Obviously, it’s not very “routine” if the DHS secretary tags along on a raid or two. Democrats will bellyache about it but it’s all perfectly legal — and a good way to remind the voters where Trump stands on illegal immigration.
Earlier this month, ICE announced that it arrested more than 2,000 illegal immigrants from 20 countries in a series of operations in July and August — with the vast majority of those arrested having criminal charges or convictions.
About 85 percent of the immigrants caught in the operations, which lasted from July 13 through Aug. 20, had pending or criminal convictions — for manslaughter, assault, domestic violence, extortion, robbery, sexual offenses with a minor and other crimes, the agency said.
Enforcing laws against illegal immigration is an issue like few others that demonstrate what’s at stake in the 2020 presidential election. A Joe Biden victory would almost certainly mean that Democrats would make an attempt to nationalize sanctuary policies. They would totally decriminalize illegal entry into the U.S. Enforcement of the law would virtually cease.
But Biden would not have an easy time unraveling the legal and regulatory edifice erected by Donald Trump to combat illegal entry into the country.
Current and former senior Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and people close to the Biden campaign said the process of unwinding the Trump administration’s immigration policies could be an arduous and long effort.
“There has been such a demolition of our traditional immigration system under this administration, that the biggest challenge will be deciding where to begin rebuilding first,” León Rodríguez, who led U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during President Obama’s second term, told CBS News.
Exaggerations aside, it’s doubtful that a Biden administration could turn back the clock in four years.
“Stated policies are fairly easy to reverse, from a practical perspective,” Rodríguez said. “Regulations present a bit more complicated case. Most of the regulations that would be of concern to a Biden administration are the subject of legal challenges. And so, the status of those legal challenges will play a big role in what strategy a Biden administration would choose.”
Ken Cuccinelli, the second in command at DHS, said he expects the Trump administration’s legacy on immigration to endure — even if the president loses reelection. Changing regulations, he added, is “very slow.”
Trump found something similar with regard to Obamacare. It’s one thing for a president to declare change, but the bureaucracy generally has the last laugh. Obamacare’s tentacles have become so entwined in the health care system that they have to be ripped out one by one to undo the damage.
Biden’s surface changes to immigration law will surely be challenged in court. It will be years before Trump’s immigration legacy could be more than marginally affected.