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Calm Sunday, busy Monday

The hyped-up Sunday ICE raids in New York did not materialize; meanwhile, the Epstein case is getting more dramatic

Calm Sunday, busy Monday

Activists in New York protest against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden/Sipa via AP)

A New York moment: 

At my church on Sunday, a deacon prayed for immigrants who might be feeling fear about the sweeping immigration raids that President Donald Trump had announced would begin that day. We do have immigrants in our church, so it was a simple sentence-long prayer for anyone feeling anxious. 

World Relief’s Matthew Soerens—who has long worked with immigrants, refugees, and churches and knows the details of the immigration system—offered some context to the raids. The Department of Homeland Security was primarily targeting 2,000 families with final orders for removal. 

“To be clear, I think some people with final orders ought to be deported. If you’re convicted of a serious crime and a public safety risk, deportation is appropriate,” Soerens wrote on Twitter. “But there will be others caught up in this, which is why many immigrants never charged with a crime are terrified.” Soerens is a good Twitter follow, by the way, and yesterday offered his analysis on the new Trump administration rule for asylum-seekers at the southern border. 

After all the hype about the raids, it appears that authorities in New York City only carried out three attempted arrests, which were all unsuccessful because the agents did not have warrants. That followed a similar pattern nationwide. 

Worth your time:  

Virtuoso pianist Daniil Trifonov’s newly released arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s classic “Vocalise” is a treat. Trifonov is based in New York these days and I was lucky enough to see him perform a few years ago. He’s a tornado. 

This week I learned:

As demand for dairy declines in the United States, the dairy industry has begun opening coffee shops in high schools because drinks like lattes and cappuccinos are “milk with some coffee.” 

A court case you might not know about: 

The Jeffrey Epstein case here in Manhattan adds more and more subplots as potential victims of his alleged sexual abuse come forward, and as investigators uncover physical evidence—like a foreign passport, locked in a safe, that bore Epstein’s photo and an alias name. 

Some of the ugliness of New York’s elite is coming out, too. For one thing, how did New York prosecutors fail to bring the case until now? Contrary to how prosecutors usually act, they here previously intervened on behalf of Epstein, the defendant.

Back in 2011, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office (which also decided not to prosecute Harvey Weinstein in 2015 when he was accused of groping) asked a judge to reduce Epstein’s sex offender status to the lowest level so he wouldn’t have to register as a sex offender. The judge couldn’t believe it.

“I have to tell you, I’m a little overwhelmed because I have never seen a prosecutor’s office do anything like this,” Justice Ruth Pickholz told prosecutors at the time, denying the request. Now federal prosecutors, led by Geoffrey Berman, are spearheading the case against Epstein. Do money and power perhaps have something to do with why it’s taken this long?

Culture I am consuming: 

I went to a sold-out screening of The Farewell, a Chinese-language indie movie. It earned a higher per-screen box-office average than Avengers: Endgame even though one of the few theaters where it was showing went dark in last weekend’s Manhattan blackout. I give the film a thumbs up: It provokes good conversations about family obligations, death, and grief. Awkwafina’s performance as the lead, a first-generation Chinese American, is wonderful. The box-office success in New York and Los Angeles means this film is sure to expand nationally. 

Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at ebelz@wng.org