President Trump delayed the raids by two weeks. Now, ICE says the operation could target up to 1 million immigrants.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are preparing for a series of massive raids that President Donald Trump pushed back late last month.
On Wednesday, ICE acting director Ken Cuccinnelli said the country-wide round-ups are “absolutely going to happen.” The delay, notes CNN, was caused by none other than Trump himself.
Just over a week ago, the president said the operation would be rescheduled until some time after the 4th of July. Trump set an approximate two-week deadline for the plan’s resumption, purportedly to give legislators time to “work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.”
“If not,” Trump tweeted, “Deportations start!”
He said the brief pause was meant to give Congress—and especially Democrats—time to collaborate on immigration reform. For the White House, that means closing ‘loopholes’ that allow undocumented aliens to continue living in the United States.
I want to give the Democrats every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes to Asylum and Loopholes. This will fix the Southern Border, together with the help that Mexico is now giving us. Probably won’t happen, but worth a try. Two weeks and big Deportation begins!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2019
However, neither I.C.E. nor the Trump administration have set a date for raids.
“We’re not going to say when operational elements are going to roll out,” Cuccinnelli said.
“They’re absolutely going to happen,” he added. “There’s approximately one million people in this country with removal orders. And of course this isn’t what ICE will go after in this, but that’s the pool of people who have been all the way through the due process chain.”
CNN reports that the initial operation was expected to encompass at least 10 major cities nationwide. But sources familiar with the agency’s plans told CNN that any raids conducted in July will likely be smaller in scope and more targeted than what was first planned.
The lingering threat of mass arrests and deportations has prompted some politicians to reassure migrants. According to the Sun-Times, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has pledged to reinforce the city’s “welcoming” reputation.
“The two weeks clock is up, which is what the president had given,” Lightfoot said on Sunday. “We’ve heard some notion that it may start again.”
Regardless of what the White House and ICE do, the mayor said that Chicago Police Department officers won’t assist the agency with immigration arrests or enforcement.
CPD “will not team up with ICE to detain any resident […] They’re not gonna be facilitating or otherwise providing any assistance in any raids—whether it’s traffic stops [or] additional support,” Lightfoot said. “We have also cut off ICE from any access from any CDP databases and that will remain permanent.”
However, Lightfoot did admit that, even without the CPD’s assistance, the federal government has the resources to “execute the order” within the city.
ICE, writes the West-Central Tribune, will be “subdued” in its approach and may only detain between 10 to 20% of their targets in each city.
President Trump has reportedly been briefed on the details, but hasn’t given any specific information for fear that he might “blurt them out.”
Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, said migrants in the nation’s second-largest city remain frightened.
“They’re definitely scared,” Salas said. “Even if the numbers are small, the purpose of the raids and the show of force is to scare a larger population. The threat is purposefully meant to affect and destabilize a whole group of people. It’s that psychological attack. Maybe they’ll come for me. Maybe they won’t. Maybe it’ll be my neighbor. t’s very mentally draining.”