US (ICE) agents are planning to launch sweeping deportation raids this weekend as the Trump administration expands its crackdown on undocumented immigrants, the New York Times reported Thursday.
A senior administration immigration officials say that ICE has about one million names on a list of targets in the raids, which have been postponed for two weeks, partly due to resistance from inside ICE, according to the Time report.
The report says the move planned for Sunday will initially target some 2,000 members of undocumented migrant families in at least 10 cities.
ICE has already obtained removal orders from courts, allowing them to move quickly to expel the migrants, some of whom may have been in the United States for over a decade, building lives for their families.
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Wednesday that ICE has court-issued removal orders for around one million people, but acknowledged that it has nowhere near the manpower and facilities capacity to pursue that many.
“They are absolutely going to happen,” Cuccinelli said of the raids, speaking to reporters at the White House.
“There are approximately a million people in this country with removal orders. Of course, that 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.”
In a tweet, he added, “Border numbers are down in June but we are still in the middle of a major humanitarian crisis. Congress can fix this if they pass common sense asylum reforms that the Trump administration has been asking for.”
The removal orders can be issued on the completion of court cases involving the migrants, whether for minor civil infractions or their own citizenship or asylum cases.
Fearing removal, migrants often don’t show up for cases and judges summarily rule against them.
ICE has stayed quiet about the raids, but they would come as President Donald Trump seeks to show toughness on immigration amid a still-strong flow into the country of migrants across the border with Mexico.
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security said 104,344 migrants were detained after crossing the border in June, down 28 per cent from May’s 13-year record high but still an extremely high figure, some 60,000 more than the same month a year ago.
While migrant flows usually ebb in the hot summer, DHS said initiatives with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, where most of the migrants come from, and a joint crackdown with Mexico, whose territory most must transit, had contributed to the downturn.