Raids across the country to arrest thousands of undocumented families are due to begin Sunday, according to two current and former Homeland Security officials, advancing with a mutating operation, whose final details remain unclear. The operation, backed by President Trump, had been postponed, in part because of the resistance of officials from his own immigration agency.
The searches, which will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for several days, will include "incidental" deportations, according to officials, who requested anonymity because of the preliminary phase of the operation. During these deportations, the authorities could arrest immigrants who were on the scene, even if they were not the target of the raids.
When possible, family members arrested together will be held in family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. However, due to space constraints, some may stay in hotel rooms until their travel documents can be prepared. The goal of ICE is to deport families as quickly as possible.
Officials said that CIE agents targeted at least 2,000 immigrants who were expelled – some because of their absence from court – but who remained illegally in the country. The operation should take place in at least 10 major cities.
The targeted families have recently crossed the border: the Trump administration has stepped up its immigration procedures last fall. In February, many of these immigrants were warned to go to an ICE office and leave the United States, security officials said.
Matthew Bourke, a spokesman for the ICE, said in a statement on Wednesday that the agency would not comment on specific details related to control operations, to ensure security of the Agency staff.
The threat of deportation has rocked immigrant communities across the country, provoked negative reactions from politicians and local police officials and fed the division into the Department of Homeland Security. , the agency in charge of the deportations. The Trump administration aims to use the operation as a show of force to deter families from approaching the southwestern border, officials said.
Agents expressed apprehension about the arrest of babies and young children. The officers also noted that the operation would have little success, as immigrant communities were already aware of the best way to avoid arrests – by refusing to open the door upon their arrival at the agent. ICE agents are not legally allowed to forcibly enter a home.
Immigration defense lawyers are likely to file motions to reopen family immigration cases, which would significantly delay or even halt their removal from the United States.
Last month, ICE Director Mark Morgan at the time, reported that officers would step up their efforts to reunite families. A few days before the start of the operation, Mr. Trump had planned the plan on Twitter, blinding ICE agents whose security officials feared to be compromised.
In early June, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin K. McAleenan, asked Morgan to cancel the operation. Mr. McAleenan did not support the raids, officials said at the time, fearing in part that undocumented parents could not be separated from their American citizen children.
Morgan then pressured Mr. Trump directly to continue the raids. He is now the Commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, another branch of the Department of Homeland Security.
At a tense meeting with White House officials on June 21, two days before the start of the raids, Mr. McAleenan again described the difficulties of the operation, including the separation of families and the logistics of their accommodation until their withdrawal. For example, if undocumented parents have children who are US citizens, ICE agents will have to wait with the children in a hotel room until a parent in the US. United can claim them.
Homeland security officials also feared that many families the administration had hoped to detain had left known ICE addresses after Mr Trump. tweeted the plans of the agency.
President Nancy Pelosi called Trump after her tweet and urged her to end the operation, which she described in a statement a few hours later as "heartless".
Mr. Trump then tweeted that he would delay the effort at the Democrats' request. But he also threatened to resume deportations if the Democrats refused to join the Republican legislators to "find a solution to the problems of asylum and murderous on the southern border".
A few days later, the Senate spent a $ 4.6 billion humanitarian aid package for the border.
The number of migrant smuggling has decreased since May, when 144,200 migrants were arrested at the southwestern border – a 13-year high.
Last Friday, Trump said the raids would begin "soon enough".
"I say that they have illegally entered and we are bringing them out legally," the president told reporters.