Washington, DC – President Donald Trump has announced that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids that were slated to begin on Sunday will be delayed for two weeks to allow Congress an opportunity to address problems with the asylum process.
President Trump announced the delay on Twitter on Saturday.
“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. If not, Deportations start!” the post read.
The raids were planned to take place in San Francisco, New York, New Orleans, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, Chicago, Baltimore, and Atlanta.
Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan said that President Trump postponed the raids to protect ICE agents, after “operational specifics” were leaked to the media by an unnamed source, according to CNN.
"It's just egregious, and it puts the lives of the officers and agents at risk," Morgan said. "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."
On Sunday morning, the President reiterated that the delay is only temporary, and said that he hopes Congress will use that time to address “Asylum and Loopholes.”
“I want to give the Democrats every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes to Asylum and Loopholes,” he tweeted. “This will fix the Southern Border, together with the help that Mexico is now giving us. Probably won’t happen, but worth a try. Two weeks and big Deportation begins!”
The targets of the mass deportation effort will be those who came into the U.S. recently, then skipped out on their scheduled court dates, a source inside the Trump Administration told National Public Radio.
The source described such individuals as “runaway aliens,” who have “lodged phony asylum claims only to be no-shows at court,” resulting in immigration judges denying their claims in absentia and ordering their removal from the U.S.
“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” President Trump tweeted on June 17. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”
The President commended Mexico for their improved efforts in “stopping people long before they get to our Southern Border,” and noted that Guatemala is preparing to sign an agreement that would require migrants crossing into that country to seek asylum there as opposed to allowing them to proceed to the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported.
“The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress,” President Trump added. “They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!”
Center for Immigration Studies Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan said that many illegal aliens seem to believe that they will be allowed to remain in the U.S. as long as they came into the country with a child, National Public Radio reported.
“What they've been doing has not been successful, so they're going to be trying something new,” Vaughan said. “And they're going to be focused on people who already have a final order of removal. And they also want people to understand that family cases are on the table."
“It’s not like the President just woke up and thought of this idea,” she added. “They’ve been laying the groundwork for this already.”
There are over a million illegal aliens with final federal court orders for deportation who remain at-large in the country, the Trump Administration source told National Public Radio.
“These judicial removal orders were secured at great time and expense, and yet illegal aliens not only refuse to appear in court, they often obtain fraudulent identities, collect federal welfare, and illegally work in the United States,” the source explained.
“Enforcing these final judicial orders is a top priority for Immigration and Customs Enforcement — willful defiance of our laws and the defrauding of the American People with fraudulent asylum claims, will not be tolerated,” the source added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the planned mass arrest effort, calling it “heartless,” CNN reported.
“[This is a] brutal action which will tear families apart and inject terror into our communities,” Pelosi railed. "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.”
President Trump has repeatedly noted that the targets of the ICE are illegal aliens with final court orders for deportation.
“The people that [ICE] will apprehend have already been ordered to be deported,” the President tweeted on Saturday. “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.”
Earlier in June, Morgan announced that ICE was planning enforcement action that would include the deportation of families, and said such situations would be handled humanely, ABC News reported.
“Our next challenge is going to be interior enforcement,” Morgan told reporters on June 4, according to The Washington Post. “We will be going after individuals who have gone through due process and who have received final orders of deportation.”
“That will include families,” the director said.
Mass deportations can also act as a deterrent for those who are considering making the journey to the U.S. southern border.
The number of migrants arriving at the U.S. border with Mexico has dropped to 2,600 per day, compared to about 4,200 per day just three weeks earlier, a senior Mexican official told ABC News on June 17.