Immigration operation touted by Trump nets 35 arrests


WASHINGTON (AP) — The immigration enforcement operation touted by President Donald Trump that targeted more than 2,000 people resulted in 35 arrests, officials said today.

Trump billed the operation as a major show of force in an effort to "deport millions" of people in the country illegally as the number of Central American families crossing the southern border has skyrocketed.

Of those arrested, 18 were members of families and 17 were collateral apprehensions of people in the country illegally encountered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. None of those arrested resulted in a separation of family, officials said.

While the operation was demonized by Democrats as a full-force effort to deport families and trumpeted by Republicans as a necessary show of force to prove there are consequences for people coming here illegally, career ICE officers described it as a routine operation, one expected to net an average of about 10 to 20 percent of targets.

It targeted families who had been ordered deported by an immigration judge in 10 cities around the country who were subjected to fast-track proceedings. It was canceled once after media reports telegraphing when and where it would begin, though Trump announced it would be postponed after a phone call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who urged him to do so.

The second round began July 14 and again was met with media attention noting when it would begin, including from Trump who announced the date.

Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence conceded the number was lower than other operations. A similar operation in August 2017 netted 650 arrests over four days, including 73 family members and 120 who entered illegally as children. There were 457 others encountered during this operation also arrested.

Albence said Trump's comments didn't hurt the effort because it had already been the subject of media reports for weeks.

But the overall publicity caused problems for an operation that relies largely on secrecy and surprise. Albence said the publicity made some officers targets, and they had to be pulled off.

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