Jordan Fabian, The Hill, July 23, 2019
Just 35 people were taken into custody during the recent series of highly publicized raids targeting more than 2,100 immigrant family members with deportation orders, acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Matthew Albence said Tuesday.
Of those arrested, Albence said 18 were part of family units and 17 others were not specifically targeted by the operation.
Albence acknowledged the low number but downplayed the notion the raids fell short of expectations, telling reporters “this is just the beginning of the operation.”
“We’re patient, and we will continue to pursue these cases,” he said on a conference call. “This is just a small snapshot of this time frame.”
Albence said ICE agents ran into a number of challenges, including Tropical Storm Barry in Louisiana, that caused officials to call off operations. In other instances, he said agents did not go ahead with apprehensions because they were being tracked, which he said posed safety issues.
The acting ICE chief also blamed the outsized media attention the operations received, which he said led advocates to put out information that led migrants to leave their homes or hide in order to avoid arrest.
But when asked if Trump’s repeated public comments about the raids contributed to the problems, Albence said “no … this wasn’t a secret.”
ICE officers arrested 899 people between mid-May and mid-July as part of standard operations targeting immigrants with criminal records and final orders of deportation.