The Slatest

Trump Delays Mass Deportation Raids Hours After Defending Them

President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. on June 22, 2019, as he travels to Camp David, Maryland.
President Donald Trump speaks to the media prior to departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. on June 22, 2019, as he travels to Camp David, Maryland. SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

Update at 4:30 p.m.: President Donald Trump said Saturday afternoon he was postponing a nationwide effort to deport thousands of families mere hours after he defended them. “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 wrote on Twitter. “If not, Deportations start!”

Trump claimed the delay was prompted by the Democrats. While it is true that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Trump to call off the raids, some aren’t so sure that’s what caused the change of heart. Administration officials told the AP that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were concerned that so much about the planned raids had leaked to the media that their agents could be at risk.

Regardless of the reason, Pelosi sent out a tweet celebrating Trump’s announcement while warning that there is no quick fix to immigration reform. “Mr. President, delay is welcome,” Pelosi wrote. “Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together.” Trump’s tweet, however, seems to set up a legislative showdown in which the president will use the threat of mass deportations in order to get concessions from Democrats on immigration.

Original post at 12:09 p.m.: President Donald Trump defended the planned deportations of potentially thousands of undocumented families in raids that are set to start in at least 10 cities across the country Sunday. As immigration advocates and many local law enforcement officials decry the move, Trump said the move that will be carried out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was more than justified.

“The people that Ice will apprehend have already been ordered to be deported. This means that they have run from the law and run from the courts,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “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.”

The president followed that up with a simple, campaign-style message: “When people come into our Country illegally, they will be DEPORTED!”

The raids that Trump has been anticipating since Monday are set to target as many as 2,000 families in around 10 U.S. cities. The Miami Herald identified the cities as Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco. As could be expected, immigrant communities are frightened by the threatened move. “The effect is terror,” an immigrant advocate tells the Los Angeles Times. “We’re getting call after call after call. There is a lot of fear.”

The fear isn’t unwarranted, considering the raids appear to be designed in such a way to cast a wide net. After all, there is little evidence to suggest ICE agents who will take part in these raids will have any intelligence on where the families targeted for deportation are staying. But officials say the raids will help them make “collateral arrests” by finding immigrants who are living in the country illegally, notes the Washington Post.

Several cities have already made clear they won’t participate in the raids with Chicago outright refusing to share records with ICE agents. The Los Angeles Police Department said ICE has 140 targets in the area. “The Department is not participating or assisting in any of these enforcement actions,” the LAPD said in a statement. New York Attorney General Letitia James also joined those criticizing the deportations, saying that Trump’s “use of migrant families and asylum seekers as political punching bags is a despicable act of racism and xenophobia that is antithetical to our basic human values.”

Some opposition to the mass raids also seem to be coming from within the administration. The acting head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, for example, has been pushing for narrower raids. McAleenan is specifically concerned that children may be separated from their parents and the mass deportations would send the wrong message at a time when ICE is telling lawmakers it needs additional money to help secure the border.

Trump though, said it was all related, insisting in brief remarks to reporters at the White House that the deportations are “having a big effect on the border” as a deterrent because “the people that came into the country illegally are going to be removed from the country, everybody knows that.”