A cache of internal emails published earlier this month by The Intercept revealed that then-Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, had ordered immigration officials to portray immigrants that were swept up during raids as criminals.
In an effort to investigate immigration policies, students at Vanderbilt University Law School obtained the thread of emails through a Freedom of Information Act request. The raids executed by the Department of Homeland Security began in February and as a result rounded up hundreds of immigrants. Although DHS officials were ordered, their efforts to criminalize immigrants and claim that the raids were “motivated by public safety concerns” were unsuccessful.
The February raids resulted in 680 arrests nationwide, many of which had no criminal history. The email sent on February 10th, shows an ICE executive in Washington instructing city chiefs around the country to “put together a white paper covering the three most egregious cases,” to justify Trump’s raids reports.
The email’s subject line read: “Due Tonight for S1 – URGENT,” which meant that the request was ordered by the secretary of Homeland Security himself, referred to as “S1,” who at the time was John Kelly. Kelly was in command of DHS before being appointed in July as chief of staff to replace Reince Priebus. A day after the original email with the direct order had been sent, a San Antonio official then sent another internal email claiming that he had been “pinged by HQ this morning indicating that [they had] failed at this tasking.”
On February 12th, the following day, an assistant field office director in Austin, Texas also communicated that the national and San Antonio offices were growing impatient and assured that the “HQ and SNA [would ping them] in the afternoon for sure.”