Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He lied about Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an attempt to defend them.

In the midst of a brief press availability this morning, Trump was asked about his administration's failure to comply with a judge's order to reunite separated migrant children with their families. He quickly moved away from the subject of the question to talk about ICE, saying "These people go into harm’s way. There is nobody under greater danger than the people from ICE. What they do to MS-13, and everything else. So we ought to support ICE, not do what the Democrats are doing."

In reality, there are few if any federal law enforcement agencies whose officers are in less danger than ICE agents. Since the agency's founding in 2003, two of its agents have been killed in line-of-duty attacks, and one of those was killed after he attempted to murder another federal law enforcement officer in a workplace dispute. The other, Special Agent Jaime Jorge Zapata, was shot while on a diplomatic assignment in Mexico.

ICE's low-risk environment is not surprising, as their actual work has nothing to do with "liberating" American cities from gang violence, something Trump claims to have personally "watched". Rather, ICE focuses mostly on investigation, and--especially under Trump--has served as the "deportation force" that conducts raids on American workplaces that have illegally hired undocumented immigrants. 

Trump generally treats ICE more as a political talking point than an actual law enforcement agency, and frequently confuses it with Customs and Border Protection, a totally different agency. 

Why is this a bad thing?

  • Presidents should be able to keep track of which executive branch agencies do what.
  • It's wrong for a president to lie to the public about what happens on his watch.
  • Ignoring abuses in a law enforcement agency makes it harder for honest police to do their work.