Weeks before former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was fired from her position, she and another member of her department, Ronald Vitiello, who was also fired, fought against a secret White House policy that would have resulted in raids against thousands of migrant families within the U.S.
The plan, as the Washington Post reported on earlier this week, was meant to be a show of force by the administration, to act as a deterrence against families coming to the U.S. and to send a message that the Trump White House was going to get tougher on immigrants. The targeted arrests would allegedly include parents and their children.
It included plans to fast-track thousands of migrants through the immigration court system, and to expand the authority of the government to deport individuals who were no-shows to those hearings. The subsequent arrests of “no-shows” would require raids against parents and children in their homes and neighborhoods.
A secret White House plan to arrest 1000s of parents & children in blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities.
The subsequent arrests would have required coordinated raids against parents & children in their homes & neighborhoods#IMMIGRATIONhttps://t.co/pFR7OGhNxF
— Anna Núñez (@nunez_anna) May 14, 2019
Seven anonymous sources detailed the plan to the Post, stating that it included conducting raids in 10 major American cities.
Vitiello and Nielsen objected to the plans, worrying that there wasn’t enough preparedness among U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents if the raids occurred. The duo also was concerned that public sentiment wouldn’t back the plans, much like how most were against the family separation policy once it was exposed. The sources viewed their objections as more logistical rather than ethical.
The initial list of people being targeted in the plan included 2,500 names, but could have been expanded to up to 10,000 individuals. The plan is reportedly still under consideration, although at the time of it initially being debated one of the sources said it was “nowhere near ready for prime time.”
Pushback by Nielsen and Vitiello was allegedly part of the reason why the two were fired from the Trump administration. Trump has reportedly been upset about increases in immigration from families since the end of the family separation policy last year.
Previous reporting from HillReporter.com detailed how the president had privately expressed a desire to reinstate the policy to separate migrant parents from their children if they’re detained in the U.S., viewing it as a proper way to deter immigrants from crossing the border. Nielsen allegedly stood up against the president’s demands on the topic, arguing that it’d be difficult to reinstate the policy since the courts wouldn’t be on the administration’s side on the issue.
After allegations that Trump wanted the policy reinstated surfaced, he spoke out and denied the claims. “We’re not looking to do that, no. We’re not looking to do that,” Trump said, per reporting from CNN last month.
Yet the president seemed to view the policy as a way to deter migration. “[W]hen you don’t do it, it brings a lot more people to the border,” Trump added.