The relevant question is what was Deval supposed to do? He couldn't stop the feds from raiding New Bedford, he just simply doesn't have that kind of power. Furthermore, it's not like he could have gone on the 11 o'clock news and told everyone the state was going to be raided weeks in advance - if he did, it may have been illegal and probably would have created a kind of mass panic that would have been worse than what actually happened (consider the fact that the raid - while a human rights nightmare - only affected the families of 300, instead of the 10,000s of undocumented Americans living in this state).
McNamara's column suggests that the ICE and DSS were planning this raid for months. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. She says there were conference calls and discussions over those months - but that doesn't really mean it was well planned - by either org. A phone call here and a phone call there doth not equal well planned - and it's pretty hard to know what went on during the planning process. Personally, I don't trust a word either organization says.
However, let's give McNamara the benefit of the doubt. After the failure that occurred in New Bedford, one wonders how that reflects on the Patrick administration? McNamara has an answer in the form of a question.
Patrick did not hesitate to appeal directly to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to allow DSS social workers access to the detainees after the raid. Why, then, did he not call Chertoff before the raid to insist that the necessary precautions to protect children be in place?
Yet, her question fails again. Simply put, even if Patrick knew about what was going on as far in advance as he did, it still wasn't his job to organize this raid. It was the federal government's job, a job they were quite happy to drop onto DSS's hands - it was an unfunded mandate of the worst kind (playing with the lives of children). Furthermore, it wasn't Patrick's job to organize the raid. DSS was the organization that should have been in contact with Chertoff. The media has recently criticized Patrick for micromanaging everything, they're their criticizing him for not micromanaging a federal raid. The media needs to pick one or the other, they can't keep having it both ways.
Even if this state government failed in any capacity, the fault lays with DSS, not the Patrick administration. Deval Patrick has had neither the time nor the resources to fix that organization, but it's becoming quite apparent it should become a new priority for him. The fact that Patrick was able to fully step in and use his role as Governor to fix things after the fact speaks well on his part: even though DSS apparently failed at first, at least someone was at the helm to fix the ship's course afterwards.
Ultimately, McNamara's column ignores a key fact: a raid targeting 300 families is a very tall task for any organization, never mind one as discombobulated and underpowered as DSS. It was the ICE that decided to ship families across the country, within a very short period of time and without due process before being removed from the state. They could have just as easily slapped bracelets on the immigrants, giving them some time to figure out what was going to happen to their children while waiting for due process. Furthermore, it's doubtful that the ICE had names and addresses for every undocumented worker in that factory - DSS isn't the FBI, they don't have the capability to find out that kind of information, especially when there are so many people involved and they're all undocumented Americans. There was no way an organization like DSS could cope with that kind of pressure and deal with it in a way we could all be proud of, even if we had a perfect Department of Social Services. Clearly, DSS is far from perfect - we knew that before this raid. McNamara would do well to continue to criticize it. However, she went too far in blaming that organization - and especially the Patrick administration - for the federal government's mistakes in New Bedford.