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Report: ICE officers wonder ‘what the hell is going on’ at the border

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Last week, federal agents were planning to round up thousands of migrant families in 10 major US cities.

The operation was supposed to target roughly 2,000 families already facing deportation orders, but President Donald Trump unexpectedly called it off on Saturday.

And now, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are reportedly enraged by the botched plans and confused by the chaos surrounding the Trump administration’s immigration agenda.

After a day of public outrage and backlash from congressional Democrats, Trump tweeted that he would push the raids back two weeks to allow lawmakers time to instead reform US asylum laws.

One relieved ICE officer told The New Yorker that “almost nobody was looking forward to this operation,” and the plans had been rife with logistical hurdles such as where to put the families, and what to do if officers were arresting migrants with US citizen children.

“What do we do with the children? Do we need to get booster seats for the vans? Should we get the kids toys to play with?” the officer told staff writer Jonathan Blitzer.

Paul Caffrey

Read more: Trump says he will delay ICE raids by two weeks to give lawmakers time to ‘work out a solution’

An ICE spokesperson declined to comment to INSIDER on the logistical hurdles of the raids, but faulted a “leak” to the public for ruining the agency’s operation — even though Trump himself first made the plans public via Twitter.

“Any leak telegraphing sensitive law enforcement operations is egregious and puts our officers’ safety in danger,” the spokesperson said. “The President’s postponement protects officers and provides an opportunity for Congress to swiftly work together in a bipartisan fashion to end the incentives for child smuggling and ensure all illegal aliens can be promptly returned upon apprehension at the southern border.”

‘I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the Obama rules’

Members of the Trump administration have been enraged by the crush of asylum-seekers crossing the US-Mexico border, and have long sought to retaliate against migrants who evade deportation orders.

The operation was first conceived months ago, but former officials like then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former acting ICE Director Ron Vitiello reportedly pushed back against the plans.

Nielsen and Vitiello had opposed the raids due largely to the poor optics, limited resources and bedspace, and concern about what to do with American children whose parents were rounded up, The Washington Post reported in May.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), officers prepare for morning operations to arrest undocumented immigrants on April 11, 2018 in New York City.
Getty Images/John Moore

Read more: In the chaos to reunite migrant children with their families, 37 kids were left in vans for up to 39 hours, with Texas temperatures in the 90s

Last week’s plans for the operation even included an idea to put the migrant families in hotels since much of the immigration detention facilities are already full, The New Yorker reported.

The ICE officer told the magazine that rank-and-file agents are frustrated with the chaos from the Trump administration, and even miss the Obama administration’s rules.

“One person told me, ‘I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the Obama rules. We removed more people with the rules we had in place than with all this. It was much easier when we had the priorities. It was cleaner,'” the officer told the New Yorker.

The officer added: “I don’t even know what we’re doing now … A lot of us see the photos of the kids at the border and we’re wondering, ‘What the hell is going on?'”

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