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Trump’s Terror Campaign

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ICE is clearly abandoning removals targeted at people with criminal histories and is going after all undocumented immigrants:

The head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit in charge of deportations has directed his officers to take action against all undocumented immigrants they may cross paths with, regardless of criminal histories. The guidance appears to go beyond the Trump administration’s publicly stated aims, and some advocates say may explain a marked increase in immigration arrests.

In a February memo, Matthew Albence, a career official who heads the Enforcement and Removal Operations division of ICE, informed his 5,700 deportation officers that, “effective immediately, ERO officers will take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.”

[…]

“There has been a significant increase in non-criminal arrests because we weren’t allowed to arrest them in the past administration,” Homan told a House committee. “You see more of an uptick in non-criminals because we’re going from zero to 100 under a new administration.”

Both Homan and Albence are career employees who have worked for decades helping the government enforce immigration laws. Before Homan was promoted to lead ICE, he led ERO, with Albence as his assistant director.

Most of the bad stuff that’s happening under Trump, from Gorsuch to the gutting of the EPA to AHCA, is happening because Trump is a Republican. But as Dara Lind observed when describing the human toll of sudden, arbitrary deportations, immigration is an exception — Trump is much worse than a generic Republican like Rubio or Jeb! would have been.

Also, in light of the “is Trump really an authoritarian” debate, this is an important point:

Trump has yet to nominate a political director to lead ICE. In fact, all three immigration agencies under Homeland Security — ICE, Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — are currently implementing Trump’s agenda while being led by career staff.

Homan has so far served as a vocal supporter of Trump’s ramped up immigration enforcement. Last week, he even made an appearance at a White House press briefing.

“Why do you think we got 11 million to 12 million people in this country [illegally] now?” Homan asked White House reporters. “Because there has been this notion that if you get by the Border Patrol, if you get in the United States, if you have a U.S. citizen kid, then no one is looking for you. But those days are over.”

The idea that because Trump doesn’t care about the details of government and isn’t acting quickly to fill executive branch positions that he therefore can’t be an authoritarian is really misguided. There are some positions — like federal judgeships or NLRB slots — where vacancies have to be filled to exercise power, and Trump for the most part is acting to fill them. But in many cases you don’t need formally Senate-approved nominees confirmed to turn the apparatus of the state against political targets, and this is a case in point.

Read the whole story — superb reporting from ProPublica.

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