ICE aimed to arrest at least 8,400 in 2017 planned raid: documents

ICE aimed to arrest at least 8,400 in 2017 planned raid: documents

In 2017, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) planned a massive raid meant to round more than 8,400 people through all 24 of its field offices, documents show. 

The raid, called “Operation Mega,” was planned for Sept. 17-21, 2017 according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by advocacy groups Mijente, Just Futures Law and Detention Watch Network and reviewed by The Hill. 

In emails about the operation, one staffer wrote “Here we go!!!!” and upon learning that the operation’s name was later changed to “Operation Epic,” another wrote “They sent out a broadcast and changed the name to Epic!! It was Trumppped!!” 

Another email about arresting migrants was signed off “Happy hunting and target building!”

ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke told The Hill in a statement Wednesday that the agency "does not condone the use of offensive or politically charged language in reference to agency enforcement operations."

"Any employee found to have acted in a manner that negatively portrays the agency; impedes the ability of ICE to execute its mission; or embarrasses the agency; will be held accountable and may be subject to disciplinary measures and corrective actions," he added. "ICE is committed to using its authorities to enforce U.S. immigration laws, and agency officers are expected to conduct enforcement humanely, respectfully and with professionalism."

Mijente published its findings in a report. While the report said that ICE used arrest quotas, Bourke said that it does not use quotas. 

"Agency efforts are not based on competition or meeting a specific threshold," he said. 

The documents’ publication comes shortly after President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative MORE announced Monday that delayed immigration raids will begin after the July  4 holiday. 

“While the documents detail information about raids planned back in 2017, we noted the ‘rinse-and-repeat’ nature of ICE’s operations and what we can expect, as Trump reignites the threat of more raids to come after July 4th,” said Mijiente Senior Campaign Organizer Jacinta González in a statement.

The documents obtained by the groups also show that in certain past raids that did occur, a greater number of “collateral” migrants than “targeted” migrants were arrested. For example in a 2017 Cross Check raid in Philadelphia, 156 collateral migrants were arrested compared with 92 targeted migrants. 

Operation Mega’s existence was first reported by NBC News in 2017. 

Federal officials later denied that they planned to conduct raids, saying that upcoming operations had been “adjusted” because of hurricanes. 

"There is currently no coordinated nationwide operation planned at this time," ICE said in 2017 "The priority in the affected areas should remain focused on life-saving and life-sustaining activities."