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John Kelly Ordered ICE to Portray Immigrants as Criminals in Order to Justify Raids

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All year, Donald Trump’s mass deportation force has been rounding up tens of thousands of immigrant mothers and fathers who have committed no crimes. Now, it turns out former DHS chief John Kelly was behind an effort to plant a false narrative to justify their arrests.

The evidence is laid about in a piece by The Intercept entitled, “Top Trump Official John Kelly Ordered ICE to Portray Immigrants as Criminals to Justify Raids.” Published yesterday, The Intercept relied on a Freedom of Information Act request from Vanderbilt Law School that unearthed internal emails in which DHS officials tried to engineer a narrative to back up the Administration’s claims that their raids on immigrants improved public safety. In the emails, ICE officials were ordered to come up with “three egregious cases” of criminals who were apprehended in the raids to highlight in the media.

As The Intercept noted, “the request had been made by the secretary of Homeland Security himself.” Yes, this order to demonize immigrants came from the very top of DHS – and the agents had trouble finding anything.

John Kelly has often been painted as the “adult” in the room, but this is vintage anti-immigrant, xenophobic behavior. Finding trumped-up reasons to justify the arrests of innocent people is what autocracies do. The Trump Administration is out to implement a racial remaking of America – and it has been demonizing immigrants and painting them all as criminals in order to manipulate Americans into allowing the Administration to carry out its racist agenda. And according to the unearthed emails, John Kelly signed off on this plan.

It does not seem to matter to this Administration that their view of undocumented immigrants in America is contradicted by facts. John Kelly’s attempt to find stories of dangerous apprehended criminals to give to the media, according to The Intercept story, failed. ICE officials were unable to find enough cases to paint the anti-immigrant picture DHS wanted. Yet this did nothing to change the Administration’s view on the effectiveness of its raids, or John Kelly’s public pronouncements that DHS was focusing on “public safety.” It is well-established that immigrants commit fewer crimes than the native-born population, but Trump continues to paint undocumented people as a unique threat to America. And cities that don’t automatically hand immigrants over to ICE are safer as a result of that policy – a fact John Kelly ignored when said he said he found it “inconceivable” that cities don’t always want to cooperate with ICE.

Over and over again, the Trump Administration has scapegoated immigrants in order to push its white nationalist agenda. It ignores the facts in doing so. And while chattering class likes to believe General Kelly is one of the good guys, he directed this effort to turbocharge Trump’s mass deportation agenda.