Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targeted more than 2,000 illegal immigrants in raids across the country last week but arrested only 35 people, according to data obtained by the New York Times.
President Trump touted Operation Border Resolve, which targeted 2,105 people living in more than a dozen cities, in the days leading up to its execution, apparently prompting many of the migrants targeted in the raids to flee their homes.
“I don’t know of any other population where people are telling them how to avoid arrest as a result of illegal activity,” acting ICE director Matthew Albence told the Times. “It certainly makes it harder for us to effectuate these orders issued.”
“You didn’t hear ICE talking about it before the operation was taking place,” he added.
Democratic lawmakers and immigration activists conducted outreach efforts in advance of the raids, which were initially scheduled for June but were postponed to give lawmakers time to negotiate a compromise on immigration-reform legislation.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi instructed the targeted illegal immigrants, whose removal had been ordered by immigration judges, not to answer their doors if an ICE agent appeared without a warrant.
“An ICE deportation warrant is not the same as a search warrant. If that is the only document ICE brings to a home raid, agents do not have the legal right to enter a home. If ICE agents don’t have a warrant signed by a judge, a person may refuse to open the door and let them in,” said Pelosi, reading from prepared remarks during her weekly press conference.
The Trump administration deported 256,086 people in fiscal year 2018, down from a record high of 409,849 deportations in 2012 under President Obama.
Last week, the administration announced that it will only extend asylum protections to migrants who have previously applied for, and been denied, refugee status in Mexico or another country before traveling to the U.S. That policy was immediately challenged in court by a coalition of immigrant-advocacy groups.