NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Trump administration is moving forward with a nationwide immigration enforcement operation targeting illegal migrants, despite loud opposition from Democrats and questions over whether it’s the best use of resources given the crisis at the border.
The nationwide operation will reportedly launch on Sunday after being postponed by President Trump late last month. It will pursue undocumented immigrants and people with final deportation orders in 10 major cities including New York.
The plan has sparked outrage and concern among immigrant-rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers.
The American Civil Liberties Union pre-emptively filed a lawsuit Thursday in an attempt to protect asylum seekers.
The operation is similar to ones conducted regularly since 2003 that often produce hundreds of arrests. It is slightly unusual to target families, as opposed to immigrants with criminal histories, but it’s not unprecedented. The Obama and Trump administrations have targeted families in previous operations.
This latest effort is notable because of the politics swirling around it.
The president announced on Twitter last month that the sweep would mark the beginning of a push to deport millions of people who are in the country illegally, a near-impossibility given the limited resources of ICE, which makes the arrests and carries out deportation orders.
Then he abruptly canceled the operation after a last-minute phone call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, urging Trump to let lawmakers work to pass a $4.6 billion border aid package. Plus, details had leaked, and authorities worried about the safety of ICE officers.
The agency said it would not discuss specifics about enforcement operations.
“As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” it said in a statement.
Trump started hinting anew in recent days that more removals were coming. He said last weekend they would be starting “fairly soon.”
“Well, I don’t call them raids,” he said. “I say they came in illegally and we’re bringing them out legally.”
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, blamed Pelosi for the raids, saying she had done “nothing” since they were delayed. “It is the speaker who caused this problem,” he said.
He said Trump would have postponed the raids again if he saw progress in House.
Some activists said they were gearing up for operations to start Sunday and planned to protest. Organizers estimated a rally planned for Saturday in Chicago would draw around 10,000 people.
The ACLU lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, argued that thousands of migrants fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were not allowed a fair chance to request asylum due but were still ordered removed from the country. They are asking that those individuals get another hearing.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)