The Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) plans to begin mass raids in ten cities on Sunday to increase the deportations of undocumented families who have received expulsion orders, following the threat issued on Twitter by President Donald Trump.
According to several media reports, the ICE operation could affect up to 2,000 families of undocumented immigrants in the cities of New York, Miami (Florida), Houston (Texas), Los Angeles and San Francisco (California), Chicago (Illinois), Atlanta. (Georgia), Baltimore (Maryland) and Denver (Colorado).
According to The Washington Post, Trump himself has ordered the operation, after tweeting last Monday that ICE would begin next week a process to deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants.
The acting director of ICE, Mark Morgan, told ABC News today that the agency has no plans to initiate deportations of “millions” of undocumented immigrants.
But Morgan already announced on Wednesday that his agency did plan an operation against some 2,000 families of undocumented immigrants who had recently arrived in the country.
ICE sent letters in February to these families, who had been subjected to an express judgment and were subject to deportation orders, to inform them that they had to cooperate with the immigration authorities and leave the nation voluntarily.
In statements to the press on Wednesday, Morgan hinted that if those families did not cooperate with ICE in March to leave the country, as they were asked in the letters, the agents could now try to find and deport them.
“(This operation) is going to send a powerful message to individuals in the countries of the Northern Triangle (of Central America): Do not come, do not take risks,” said the official.
Trump’s tweet and Morgan’s statements have increased fear among the country’s undocumented population and have surprised activists defending the rights of immigrants, given that it is extraordinary that ICE provides details in advance about a raid or operation to big scale.
The operation would begin on Sunday and last several days, during which ICE would use hotel rooms to temporarily detain parents and children until all members of the same family are together to be deported, according to the Post.
If they detain parents or legal guardians of children who are US citizens, ICE agents would assign them electronic monitoring anklets to keep them located while making arrangements for the care of the children when they are deported, according to the Miami Herald newspaper.
That newspaper says that the raids could affect teenagers who arrived without their parents in the country when they were minors and who have already turned 18, in addition to the 2,000 families that received the letters from ICE.
News of the possible raids outraged groups of activists such as Families Belong Together, whose director Sandra Cordero considered them a “disgusting” attempt by Trump to “satisfy his base” of voters ahead of the 2020 elections.
“Other raids in the past have left children alone and frightened in empty homes, praying for not having to take care of their little brothers alone, without having any idea if they will see their parents again,” Cordero said in a statement.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has expressed reservations about the raid plans and instead has advocated launching a more limited operation to deport some 150 families that have allegedly evaded their legal process, the official said. Post
But the White House has dodged McAleenan and coordinated the operation’s plans directly with Morgan, he added.