Eileen McNamara tears apart DSS head Harry Spence — and the Patrick administration:
Federal immigration agents first briefed senior members of the incoming Patrick administration about plans to raid a Massachusetts sweatshop that employed undocumented workers last December, days before Governor Deval Patrick even took office.
In the following two months, there were face-to-face meetings and conference calls between state officials and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to discuss the potential human as well as legal consequences of the planned roundup of laborers working illegally at the Michael Bianco Inc. leather factory in New Bedford.
…So, enough with the breast-beating pretense that the Patrick administration was blindsided by the stealth tactics of shadowy federal immigration officials. This is political grandstanding of the most transparent kind.
It goes on, detailing other contact that DSS had with ICE, pre-raid.
I’m really not sure about the conclusions that McNamara draws, and it strikes me that she’s too willing to believe that Spence and Patrick should have known that ICE was going to put these folks on a plane to Texas — the “race to the airport”. She seems a bit too willing to believe ICE’s version of the events in planning. Even if everything in this column is absolutely true, it doesn’t excuse ICE’s actions.
However, this does seem to be a problem:
Given the state’s performance, that is almost funny. As late as yesterday afternoon Nancy Fernandez Mills, communications director for the Patrick administration, was insisting that “the governor was not told and did not know the raid was happening until it was going on” and that “DSS did not know about this raid until it was in progress.”
Told that, in fact, members of Patrick’s Cabinet had briefed him about the operation weeks ago and that Spence had participated in a conference call with ICE the day before the raid — a fact the commissioner himself acknowledged in yesterday’s newspapers — she reconsidered: “I’d like to retract that statement until I talk to someone who actually knows something about this timeline.”
It is going to be a long four years.
Uh, yeah, that statement sounds “non-operative.” Not good.
Update: Mark’s got more, and has some similar questions. It comes down to this: Just because DSS met with ICE beforehand does not mean that ICE was thorough and truthful in what they said, or are now saying. It does make Patrick, Fernandez et al. look bad in saying it was a surprise, though.
UPDATE: Here’s Patrick’s response:
“I don’t know what dispute there is about what the state knew and when we knew it. There is no doubt about it that we were advised in advance of the raid and were working with Washington to prepare for the aftermath. On the day of the raid and in the immediate hours and days afterward, the (state) workers on the ground didn’t have the level of cooperation we’d thought we would have.”
And as I think of it, I don’t recall hearing that Patrick himself ever denied knowing about the raid before it happened; maybe someone can set me straight on that. Fernandez Mills seems to be out of the loop, which is still not good. But aside from that, McNamara’s column is becoming more and more confusing to me; her level of outrage seems to be disproportionate to the amount of blame she can actually pin on Spence and Patrick as of now.
As they say, “Developing …”