Only 35 arrested in ICE raids touted by Trump

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.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE had promoted the July 13 weekend raids, known as Operation Border Resolve, as a major effort to deter the influx of migrants from Central America, who often cross the U.S. southern border together as a family unit. 

Trump last week said the raids were “very successful,” even though many of the arrests were not seen by the public. Trump declined to say how many immigrants had been apprehended.

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. 

Albence said it is difficult to determine how big of an effect the publicity had, but noted “you could turn on any TV station for several weeks with this being one of the lead topics.”

“Part of the challenge,” he added, is “locating these individuals when they don’t want to be found.”

But when asked if Trump’s repeated public comments about the raids contributed to the problems, Albence said “no … this wasn’t a secret.”

The raids in roughly a dozen cities were scheduled for June but were delayed after Trump tweeted about the plans, saying the government would within a week “begin the process of removing millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.” 

The president cited his desire to allow more time for Democrats to agree to an immigration deal in announcing the delay. 

Trump has made immigration one of the centerpieces of his 2020 reelection campaign. Over the past two weeks, he has made numerous statements in an attempt to show his supporters he is cracking down on illegal immigration and building his long-promised border wall. 

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.

The arrest figures were first reported by The New York Times.