It’s another instance of the president using migrants to further his own political agenda.
President Donald Trump is using immigrants for political leverage, threatening to carry out mass deportations unless congressional Democrats overhaul American asylum policy.
According to CBS News, Trump’s ‘stunning reversal’ came as immigration leaders and advocates prepared for a crackdown. The deportations—meant to be spearheaded by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or I.C.E.—had been heavily publicized. Officers were expected to target thousands of families, many of which already faced outstanding warrants.
Liberals were critical of the plan from the start, saying mass removals could tear families apart. In many cases, notes CBS, multi-generational households have members—often younger—who’re U.S. citizens, with others remaining undocumented.
But Trump says he changed his mind at the behest of Democrats.
“At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border,” Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon. “If not, Deportations start!”
At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2019
One way or another, Trump doesn’t seem optimistic—he followed that tweet up with another Sunday morning, claiming he wants to help Democrats but doesn’t think they’ll be able to get their act together before his two-week deadline.
“I want to give the Democrats every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes to Asylum and Loopholes,” Trump wrote. “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!”
Earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) petitioned to the president to rethink the round-ups. QZ.com suggests that Pelosi personally called President Trump late last week, prompting the latter about-face.
“Tomorrow is Sunday, and as many people of faith attend religious services, the President has ordered heartless raids,” Pelosi said. “It is my hope that before Sunday, leaders of the faith-based community and other organizations that respect the dignity and worth of people will call upon the President to stop this brutal action which will tear families apart and inject terror into our communities.”
In response to Trump’s extended deadline, Pelosi tweeted, “Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together.”
The raids, adds Vanity Fair, would’ve been sweeping. I.C.E. officials planned to target migrant families across Miami, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Chicago, along with several other major cities. Regional media houses and local newspapers had already publicized the planned deportations, spreading fear through migrant communities and mobilizing attorneys and immigration advocates.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted Trump’s tactic as “another bait and switch.”
“He creates a crisis, and then he says, ‘Oh, let’s solve this crisis! Make a deal with me!’” de Blasio said. “But the painful, cruel joke was that a lot of people felt a lot of fear over it.”