President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he’s delaying for two weeks US Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids that were planned to take place Sunday in 10 major US cities, saying deportations will proceed unless Congress finds a solution on the US-Mexico border.
The President’s pullback was an about-face in a matter of hours on enforcing his signature immigration policy, following deep criticism from the cities’ mayors, top Democrats and immigration activists who called the coordinated arrests and deportations on targeted migrant families “heartless.”
“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 said on Twitter Saturday. “If not, Deportations start!”
A senior immigration official had told CNN on Friday that ICE was planning on arresting and deporting about 2,000 migrant families with court-ordered removals in 10 cities beginning Sunday.
Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan blamed leaked details for the raids’ delay, but did not specify what information was disclosed or by who.
“The media got ahold of some operational specifics … and they report it,” Morgan told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro Saturday.
“It’s just egregious, and it puts the lives of the officers and agents at risk,” he added. “The men and women I’ve served with are true American heroes. And so what the President did – he recognized that, and so he postponed … to protect them.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Trump Friday night and asked him to call off the ICE deportation raids, a source familiar with the call tells CNN. The two spoke for about 12 minutes.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere confirmed to CNN that a phone call took place.
On Saturday, Pelosi pushed for Trump to halt the raids in a statement, calling the anticipated operation “heartless” and a “brutal action which will tear families apart and inject terror into our communities.”
“These families are hard-working members of our communities and our country. The President’s action makes no distinction between a status violation and committing a serious crime,” Pelosi said.
After Trump’s announcement was made, Pelosi tweeted, “Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together.”
Earlier in the day, Trump defended the raids, arguing that the targeted families have been dodging the law.
“The people that Ice will apprehend have already been ordered to be deported,” Trump tweeted. “This means that they have run from the law and run from the courts. These are people that are supposed to go back to their home country. They broke the law by coming into the country, & now by staying.”
A senior Democratic aide says Trump is “trying to create leverage in a situation where he has none,” adding “it won’t work.”
“Democrats aren’t going to compromise their values. He’s walked away from several deals on immigration. We have no illusions here,” the aide said.
’They will be removed from the country’
Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for Camp David Saturday that the raids would begin “during the course of this next week, maybe even a little bit earlier than that.”
“These are people that came into the country illegally. They’ve been served. They’ve gone through a process. A process of the courts, and they have to be removed from the country,” Trump said. “They will be removed from the country.”