Administration officials are accusing Homeland Security Acting Director Kevin McAleenan of sabotaging Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) deportation raids by leaking key details of the plan.
President Donald Trump on Saturday abruptly announced that he would delay plans for Sunday raids targeting around 2,000 illegal immigrants across the country. The president claimed the two-week hiatus would give the White House time to reach a consensus with Democrats on “asylum and loophole” issues at the southern border.
However, senior administration officials say there is much more to the story.
Current and former officials within the administration who spoke to the Washington Examiner and Buzzfeed are accusing McAleenan of ruining the Sunday operation by either personally releasing details of the plan, or by having people in his staff do it for him.
“I know he has not approved of this operation for months,” one source familiar with the matter said to Washington Examiner. “The president wouldn’t leak that. ICE wouldn’t leak that. There’s only a few people involved in these discussions … The only one who could have shared the details of those operations were [McAleenan].
Revealing details of the deportation raids, such as dates and locations, put ICE agents at risk, the sources pointed out.
“Leaking the locations and details to stop the operation from happening not only harmed operational integrity, but it put the safety and well-being of his own officers in jeopardy,” one administration official said to Buzzfeed. “The ICE mission is enforcing the nation’s laws and ensuring those who are unlawfully present in the country are removed if ordered by a judge; this will leave an un-erasable mark on his tenure.”
Trump on Monday announced that ICE would soon embark on a massive deportation operation targeting “millions” of illegal immigrants, but he did not reveal any more information about the plan. In a call with reporters on Wednesday, ICE Acting Director Mark Morgan spoke about the reasoning behind the operation, but also would not spill any of its logistics.
On Friday, however, specific details were revealed to the public. ICE agents, according to media sources, would strike on Sunday, targeting around 2,000 illegal family units living in as many as 10 different U.S. cities, such as Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Chicago, and other places.
ICE advised the Trump administration to call off the raids after the plan’s details were leaked. The news reports tipped of likely targets, giving them time to leave before the arrival of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations officers. Additionally, ICE agents could be made targets themselves in neighborhoods that were expecting their presence.
McAleenan was reportedly never a fan of the operation. The DHS chief argued that the administration should’ve instead focused on a smaller scale operation that targeted fewer families, and he believed that carrying out a massive interior operation would appear incongruous at a time when the department was begging Congress for additional funds for the southern border.
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