Trump administration officials sought Sunday to cool the heated rhetoric over anticipated immigration sweeps, arguing that enforcing deportation orders is routine — and occurred with greater frequency under President Obama.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway declined to discuss operational details, but said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement “does this every single day” and that Mr. Obama was known as the “deporter in chief.”
“ICE does this every single day. Law enforcement in this country enforces the law,” said Ms. Conway on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s a tautological definition of their duties. And this of course happened under President Obama. He was referred to as ‘deporter in chief’ very harshly in 2012.”
President Trump told reporters Friday that the apprehensions would begin Sunday. About 2,000 illegal aliens in 10 cities facing deportation orders after having their cases adjudicated are expected to be targeted.
“He [Obama] pushed back on actually Telemundo, a Spanish language station when they criticized him, and they said, you’re deporting 184,000 quote non criminals, and he said, ‘I’m not a king, I have to enforce the law,’” said Ms. Conway.
About three million illegal immigrants were deported from 2009-16 during the Obama administration, hitting a high of about 409,000 in Fiscal Year 2012, while the Trump administration has yet to exceed 300,000 deportations per year, according to Department of Homeland Security figures posted by Axios.
Citing former Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Ms. Conway said “these are not extraordinary actions.”
“Your appeals have been exhausted. Your rights have been adjudicated. These are final removal orders for people who are here illegally and ICE is going to do what they do every day, which is go ahead and enforce the law,” she said.
Even so, the deportations were condemned by Democrats like Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who said Mr. Trump’s announcement was “about scaring everyone in the country.”
“If you wanted to go after security risks, and there are people who are security risks, why would you alert them and say you’re doing this on a Sunday and do it two weekends in a row?” asked Ms. Klobuchar on ABC’s “This Week.” “Why, because you want to make news, right?”
Why is it wrong to deport those who have committed crimes? “Because unfortunately the Trump administration is no longer believable on these issues,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“They said they were going to do immigration enforcement and what we’ve seen is so inconsistent,” Mr. de Blasio said. “They’ve gone after folks who’ve committed no crime, who have had no proceeding against them.”
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, also refused to divulge specifics, but emphasized that “ICE’s everyday job … is enforcing the law Congress passed.”
“We’ve got compassionate, loyal ICE agents who are just doing their job,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. “And it shows you how far we’ve fallen in that it’s become news that they would actually go deport people who have removal orders.”
“While lots of people in this government were saying it is a manufactured crisis… those people are now coming to the border and realizing we do have a real crisis.”@USCISCuccinelli reacts to suggestions Trump is using ICE as a political stunt.#CNNSOTUhttps://t.co/mL8jHkGDmS pic.twitter.com/CeT9plIycF
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) July 14, 2019
He emphasized that such aliens are not undocumented because “they’ve got a court order on a piece of paper, a federal order that says they’ve gotten due process.”
Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said that the priority with deportations is apprehending “criminal aliens,” those who have committed additional crimes after entering the country illegally.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan says ICE raids are necessary. He tells @margbrennan, “To maintain integrity to the system, we have to apply consequences to everyone.” pic.twitter.com/4n2cvdXHZ7
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) July 14, 2019
“But also, part of that priority is to also go after and apply consequences and enforce the rule of law to those individuals who had due process and received a final order of removal from a judge, and they still remain here illegally,” Mr. Morgan said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “To maintain integrity in the system, we have to apply consequences to everyone.”
Source: Kellyanne Conway defends immigration raids, points to ‘deporter in chief’ Obama