Reason Roundup

Last Week's ICE Raids Were a Tremendously Expensive Political Show That Didn't Make Anyone Safer

Plus: The trade war still isn't good or easy to win, trans activists are upset about a new romantic comedy, and more....


Last week's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in Mississippi that led to more than 600 people being detained came with a hefty price tag. That's on top of the more obvious—but less quantifiable—cost of ripping parents away from their children and locking them up for doing nothing more dangerous than trying to earn a living to support their families.

Days later, there is still no indication that any of the workers arrested by ICE during raids of seven food processing plants were dangerous criminals or represented much of a threat to the public. But arresting 680 people who are peacefully working still requires a massive logistical operation. "Something like this has been planned for over a year," acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told NBC's Chuck Todd in an interview on Sunday. The raids involved more than 600 law enforcement personnel from a variety of federal, state, and local offices. No matter how you look at it, that's a huge investment of time and resources that could have been spent tracking down bigger threats or stopping other, more serious crimes.

After the raid, taxpayers got hit with another bill. According to ICE's own numbers, it costs $213 per day to keep someone locked up in an immigration detention facility. That translates to a public cost of over $144,000 per day to keep the 680 immigrants arrested last week behind bars. Even though 300 of the arrestees were released a day after the raid—yet another indication that the raid was not targeting dangerous criminals—keeping the remaining 380 behind bars for the past six days would cost more than $485,000. If detained for the whole month, this effort would cost taxpayers more than $2 million.

That total also doesn't include the "unseen" costs of the raid, like the damage done to the local economy in the towns where those food processing plants operate. The plants have been partially shut down since the raids, likely costing millions of dollars in lost productivity. A bakery in one of the towns may have to shut down because a large portion of its current workforce is afraid to show up for work, the owner told the Clarion-Ledger. And the loss of 600 people—who were not only workers at the food processing plants but also customers at other establishments in the area—represents a significant economic drain in a part of the country where businesses are already struggling to get by.

Were last week's raids worth all that? The Trump administration continues to boast that they were the biggest immigration enforcement operations in over a decade. But in a world where the government's resources are limited, the cost of the raid seems difficult to justify, even without adding the odious moral costs of tearing apart families. Last week's raids appear to be little more than a costly political show, meant to thrill the president's anti-immigrant base—human lives and fiscal responsibility be damned.


Can the transgender community laugh at itself? A new romantic comedy that adapts a novel about a cisgender guy who deceives a lesbian into thinking he is a trans man so she will date him is getting panned by some in the trans community for being "inherently transphobic," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The film, "Adam," is set for release later this week. Director Rhys Ernst defends the project as a "subversive" attempt as "flipping the trans-deception trope" as well as creating an opening for mainstream audiences to appreciate the difficulties of the trans lifestyle.


Hurt by Trump's trade war, some North Dakota farmers are wondering why they even bother, CNBC reports:

"It's really, really getting bad out here," said Bob Kuylen, who's farmed for 35 years in North Dakota. "Trump is ruining our markets. No one is buying our product no more, and we have no markets no more."

Kuylen, who farms roughly 1,500 acres of wheat and sunflowers, lost $70 per acre this year, despite growing good crops. Current government subsidies only cover about $15 per acre, he said. "There's no incentive to keep farming, except that I've invested everything I have in farming, and it's hard to walk away," he said. "When four to five generations ahead of you have succeeded, and you come along and fail, you don't see it as not your fault. You snap."


Bill Weld visits the Iowa State Fair to eat a turkey leg and make a pitch for NeverTrumpism. Buzzfeed's Rosie Gray was on the scene during Weld's "short, rainy, and little-noticed trip to Iowa" last weekend:

John Paul Strong, 78, was curious to hear what Weld had to say about veterans' issues but figured he would likely vote for Trump again, based on the assumption that because Weld is from Massachusetts, he "might be a lefty." Weld's contention that Trump is racist also ruffled at least one set of feathers. "Trump's not racist," a man called out to Weld as he passed by. (The same man dropped by Weld's gaggle to say the same thing later on.) Weld is clear on this point and is as willing to call Trump a racist as any Democrat. Trump is an "extreme racist," Weld told reporters after his speech. "If the Republican Party in Washington doesn't expressly disavow his racist tirades, they are going to go down with a massive defeat in 2020."

Meanwhile, another possible Trump primary challenger is still testing the waters. Former Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina is heading to New Hampshire on Tuesday to meet voters and decide whether he wants to tilt at a windmill. Sanford tells The Post and Courier newspaper that the prospect of a primary challenge against Trump is "even more daunting than it seemed four weeks ago."

But Sanford also says he wants to use his campaign—if he decides to launch one—to push a national debate about America's debt and government spending. That's something that's sorely missing right now.

Presidential candidate Julian Castro is apparently trying to get Trump to tweet about him: