Fewer than three dozen total arrests were made during the highly-publicized Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation earlier this month, according to acting ICE director Matthew Albence.
Operation Border Resolve, which took place on the weekend of July 13, was highly publicized by the president and media, and caused concern or panic among some communities and opponents of immigration enforcement. Despite the relatively small number of arrests as compared with the number of total targets, Albence said they were not disappointed.
“This is just the beginning of the operation,” Albence said according to Politico. “When you have somebody that comes in here illegally and has no ties to anyone in the country and can give any address they want, that makes it very difficult for us to be able to try to locate those individuals.”
“We’re patient, and we will continue to pursue these cases,” Albence also said. “This is just a small snapshot of this time frame.”
Breaking down the numbers
Overall, the operation targeted 2,100 illegal immigrants with deportation orders. Out of the 35 people arrested, 18 of them were targets and 17 were not specifically targeted.
Did the publicity hurt?
One thing that can be harmful to a law enforcement operation like this one is a high level of advance attention paid to it, allowing the targets to be on guard to avoid arrest.
Albence conceded that the publicity was potentially problematic, saying “you could turn on any TV station for several weeks with this being one of the lead topics.” But Albence was clear that he did not believe President Donald Trump’s comments about the operation harmed its effectiveness.
“Part of the challenge…is locating these individuals when they don’t want to be found,” Albence said.
ICE officers in danger?
Albence said that some operations were stalled because of concern that ICE agents were being followed.
“We had instances where we had officers that believed they were being surveilled by individuals and there was concern that they would somehow try to interfere with our ability to make these arrests,” he said. “For officer safety reasons, we discontinued the enforcement operation at that time.”