Nationwide raids to arrest immigrants who are in the United States illegally have been scheduled to begin Sunday, the Boston Globe has reported.
The newspaper attributed its report to one former and two current homeland security officials and said the operation, backed by President Donald Trump, was postponed initially, partly because of resistance among officials at the immigration agency.
Trump targets deporting millions of undocumented immigrants. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed the policy as ‘heartless’.
The raids, which will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) over multiple days, will include “collateral” deportations, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary stage of the operation. In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.
When possible, family members who are arrested together will be held in family detention centres in Texas and Pennsylvania. But because of space limitations, some might end up staying in hotel rooms until their travel documents can be prepared. ICE’s goal is to deport the families as quickly as possible.
The officials said ICE agents were targeting at least 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered deported — some as a result of their failure to appear in court — but who remain in the country illegally. The operation is expected to take place in at least 10 major cities.
The families being targeted crossed the border recently: The Trump administration expedited their immigration proceedings last fall. In February, many of those immigrants were given notice to report to an ICE office and leave the United States, the homeland security officials said.
Matthew Bourke, an ICE spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday that the agency would not comment on specific details related to enforcement operations, to ensure the safety and security of agency personnel.
The threat of deportation has rattled immigrant communities across the country, prompted backlash from local politicians and police officials and stoked division inside the Department of Homeland Security — the agency that is charged with carrying out the deportations. The Trump administration’s goal is to use the operation as a show of force to deter families from approaching the southwestern border, the officials said.