President Trump’s ambitious deportation goals, such as his latest pledge to deport “millions of illegal aliens,” have crashed again and again into the reality of the U.S. immigration enforcement system, the Washington Post reports. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is averaging 7,000 deportations per month from the U.S. interior. With unauthorized border crossings soaring to their highest levels in more than a decade, ICE has been facing a shortage of funds and detention beds. Experts say a large-scale push to arrest and deport hundreds of thousands of migrants would be exorbitantly expensive and highly unlikely. For ICE, making “at large” arrests in homes and neighborhoods — the key to chipping away at the “millions” Trump wants to expel — will require significant amounts of planning, coordination and secrecy.
By telegraphing plans for a nationwide roundup, the president risked undermining the effectiveness of ICE’s most complex enforcement operation in years. The plan is aimed at sweeping up and deporting thousands of migrant family members in major cities who were ordered to leave after their cases were evaluated by immigration judges. On Tuesday, officials acknowledged that Trump’s unexpected tweet had blown the cover off the plan. They predicted that would-be deportees could scatter from known addresses, diminishing the agency’s chances for success. ICE director Mark Morgan said Tuesday on “PBS NewsHour” that he hoped immigrants facing deportation would “work with us” and “come and turn themselves in to ICE agents and we will work with them to remove them to their countries.” At its peak, ICE deported more than 400,000 immigrants during the entire 2012 fiscal year, and more than half of those were border-crossers who could be quickly sent home. Trump told a cheering crowd in Phoenix three months before his election that he would deport millions of immigrants who had allegedly committed crimes.