Despite reported misgivings by the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE agents are prepared to start rounding up migrant families with existing deportation orders Sunday in 10 major cities around the country.
According to reports by the Washington Post and CNN, both citing confidential sources, the raids are to begin before dawn Sunday at the last-known addresses of families who had been ordered to leave the country.
However, both news organizations cited sources saying that Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has concerns that the raids could be a public relations nightmare if children again became separated from their families in the process, perhaps if they are at school or day care when the raids take place.
But McAleenan’s worries have been trumped by Donald Trump himself, whose tweet Monday one day before he officially announced his re-election bid that promised raids were coming surprised many in immigration enforcement circles who aren’t used to their operations becoming public knowledge in advance.
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people…….”Trump wrote in his tweet
A senior administration official told CNN the operation had been planned for some time, but said the tweet had put the operation at the forefront.
“Certainly, the President’s tweet helped prioritize things for people,” the official said, adding that there had been internal debate about timing amid negotiations with Congress on additional funding and the upcoming 2020 budget.
But despite any potential misgivings on their big boss’ part, ICE officials were unfazed.
“If you’re here illegally, then you should be removed,” acting head of ICE Mark Morgan said, CNN reports. “And in this case, that includes families.” Officials also spoke of the possibility of “collateral arrests” of folks in the process, according to the Post.
The raids are expected to take place over several days starting Sunday in as many as 10 U.S. cities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles as well as other major cities known to be immigrant hubs, according to the Post.
The Los Angeles Police Department issued a statement saying that none of its officers would be participating in the raids, the Post reports.
New York state’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Letitia James, promised New York would do everything in its power to protect immigrants.
She slammed Trump’s plans for mass deportation, the Post reports, saying his “use of migrant families and asylum seekers as political punching bags is a despicable act of racism and xenophobia that is antithetical to our basic human values.”