In a statement released on Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took 121 people into custody over the weekend. These raids fall under a new policy that was leaked to The Washington Post just before Christmas, which concentrates on Central American migrants who entered the United States during the the immigration “surge” of 2014.
In late 2014, it looked like Obama was finally taking measures to distance himself from his “deporter-in-chief” reputation. After years of sustained pressure from immigrants, advocates, and activists, Obama expanded Deferred Action (an executive order that is now held up in court) and moved towards the rhetoric of “felons not families.”
But these recent raids seem to contradict all that progress. They are focused on families with children and unaccompanied minors. Johnson was careful to stress that those taken into custody by ICE over the weekend had exhausted all appeals for asylum, and that all necessary precautions were taken, given the “sensitive nature” of deporting young children. But it doesn’t seem like it’s a policy that will be popular with Democrats—Donald Trump is taking credit for it.
As for Hillary Clinton, her campaign released a tepid statement in late December (“Hillary Clinton has real concerns about these reports”). To gain the trust of the Latino voters she has been actively courting, stronger action will no doubt be needed.