Is President Trump’s immigration agenda being sabotaged by high-ranking officials in his own cabinet?
Senior administration officials told the Washington Examiner that a major leak related to ICE raids of illegal aliens families scheduled to begin last weekend was orchestrated by Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan (shown).
The three current and two former officials who spoke on the basis of anonymity said it was McAleenan who leaked information of the planned raids to the Washington Post, which the newspaper published in a Friday article.
The Post’s reporting revealed that the raids would take place on Sunday in Los Angeles, Houston, and Miami, among other cities.
President Trump had stated on Twitter that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would begin removing “millions of illegal aliens” this week.
Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people.......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
....long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
The day after the Post’s article was published, the president announced he would delay the deportations for two weeks — ostensibly at the request of Democrats.
At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2019
I want to give the Democrats every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes to Asylum and Loopholes. This will fix the Southern Border, together with the help that Mexico is now giving us. Probably won’t happen, but worth a try. Two weeks and big Deportation begins!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2019
But the five officials who spoke with The Examiner claimed it was the leak that prompted President Trump to stop the 10-city operation. ICE allegedly advised the White House that the Post article undermined the success of the raids and the safety of immigration enforcement officers.
“Leaking the locations and details to stop the operation from happening not only harmed operational integrity, but it put the safety and well-being of his own officers in jeopardy,” one of the administration officials wrote of McAleenan.
According to the sources, McAleenan opposed the raids since they were planned back in April. The operation was set to target illegal aliens families who have remained in the country despite being denied asylum.
The officials also claimed only a handful of individuals in the White House, ICE, and DHS were aware of details like who would be targeted by the raids, in which cities, and on what date and time.
One official said, “I know [Kevin McAleenan] has not approved of this operation for months. The president wouldn’t leak that. ICE wouldn’t leak that. There’s only a few people involved in these discussions.... The only one who could have shared the details of those operations were Kevin.”
Another of the five officials alleged that the DHS head “cares more about what liberals and 'Never Trumpers' in Congress and the media think of him than achieving the express mission of his department.”
On Wednesday, McAleenan traveled to the border on a government plane with Post immigration reporter Nick Miroff, who wrote the Friday story.
“That’s law enforcement sensitive information,” one of the unnamed officials said. “You just don’t reveal that."
Another added that McAleenan’s “hands were dirty.”
Former Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan took to Fox & Friends on Saturday, where he also accused McAleenan of seeking to hinder President Trump’s immigration policy.
“You’ve got the acting secretary of Homeland Security resisting what ICE is trying to do,” Homan said. “He does not support this operation, and I tell you what, if that’s his position, then he’s on the wrong side of this issue.”
He went on to say: “This leak — which, I know where the leak came from, I think we all know where the leak came from, that story only benefits one person—put these officers at greater risk of harm.”
McAleenan also serves as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The report raises the question: How effectively can President Trump deliver on his immigration promises if his attempts are blocked by the very people responsible for their enforcement?
Photo of Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan: AP Images