I'm not sure who's brilliant idea it was for this trial balloon to go up on Christmas Eve, but if the Obama administration really wanted to look like a bunch of of Trump-like Grinches this Christmas, they couldn't have done a better job than this.
The Department of Homeland Security has begun preparing for a series of raids that would target for deportation hundreds of families who have flocked to the United States since the start of last year, according to people familiar with the operation.
The nationwide campaign, to be carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents as soon as early January, would be the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence in Central America, those familiar with the plan said. More than 100,000 families with both adults and children have made the journey across the southwest border since last year, though this migration has largely been overshadowed by a related surge of unaccompanied minors.
The ICE operation would target only adults and children who have already been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge, according to officials familiar with the undertaking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because planning is ongoing and the operation has not been given final approval by DHS. The adults and children would be detained wherever they can be found and immediately deported. The number targeted is expected to be in the hundreds and possibly greater.
The proposed deportations have been controversial inside the Obama administration, which has been discussing them for several months. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has been pushing for the moves, according to those with knowledge of the debate, in part because of a new spike in the number of illegal immigrants in recent months. Experts say that the violence that was a key factor in driving people to flee Central America last year has surged again, with the homicide rate in El Salvador reaching its highest level in a generation. A drought in the region has also prompted departures.
The pressure for deportations has also mounted because of a recent court decision that ordered DHS to begin releasing families housed in detention centers.
Now, deporting in the hundreds is not exactly news, the Obama administration does that regularly. But whoever thought of running this story on December 24th needs to be fired, as Greg Sargent points out.
In a preview of more to come, a leading immigration advocate, Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, told me that there will be intense pressure on the Democratic presidential candidates — particularly likely nominee Hillary Clinton — to denounce the new policy. Sharry pointed out that this could force Clinton to decide whether to align with immigration advocates and Latinos, as she’s been doing in hopes of winning the Latino vote by a huge margin in the general election, which would mean breaking with the Obama administration and adopting a position that Republicans will attack as weak on immigration enforcement.
“This will be a political nightmare for the Democrats,” Sharry told me. “The specter of raids picking up families and sending them back to violent countries is going to put Hillary Clinton in a difficult position. She’ll have to choose between protecting refugees from Central America, a demand of the Latino community, or standing with the law-and-order position of Obama and Republicans.”
That's exactly what all three Democratic 2016 candidates have done, Sanders and O'Malley more than Clinton.
We'll see how it's going. If I didn't know any better, I'd say this was done on purpose to help Hillary recover from her disastrous and absolutely insulting "Hillary is like your abuela" campaign from Monday, which backfired completely as the #NotMyAbuela hashtag on Twitter.
Maybe I'm just thinking like Karl Rove again.