U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin a vast roundup of undocumented immigrants in at least 10 major cities this weekend, the The New York Times reported Thursday.
The Times, citingtwo current and one former Homeland Security official it did not name, said the raids will begin Sunday and target more than 2,000 immigrants facing deportation orders who remain in the country illegally. The sources told the Times that ICE planned to keep family members together atfamily detention facilities whenever possible.
The report comes as no surprise: Less than a week agoPresident Donald Trump promised that mass deportation roundupswould begin soon
Theyll be starting fairly soon, but I dont call them raids, were removing people, all of these people who have come in over the years illegally, Trump said Friday.
Trump said two weeks ago that he would delaynationwide raidsfor two weeks to give Congress time to develop an immigration plan. Trump's hard line on immigration has been a recurring theme in his presidency and is expected to take center stage in his 2020 reelection bid.
ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke, in a statement emailed Thursday to USA TODAY, would neither confirm nor deny the raid plan.
"Due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency will not offer specific details related to enforcement operations," Bourke said.
ICEhas consistently maintained that its focus is on people with criminal records but that anyone found to be in the U.S. illegally would facedetainment.
"Ninety percent of aliens arrested by ICEs Enforcement and Removal Operations component in FY2018 had either a criminal conviction, pending criminal charge, were an ICE fugitive or illegally reentered the country after previously being removed," Bourke said.
ICEofficialspreviously have said they plan to target new arrivals in an effort to stema surge of Central American families arriving through Mexico.That surge showed some decline in June, when total border arrests fell 29% according to numbers released by Customs and Border Protection. But the decline came after May totals more than 140,000 arrests that were the highest since 2006.
The Trump administrationcredits itsescalating series of threatsand new policies for the slowdown, although border crossing traditionally declines in the heat of summer.
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A government report released last week found that migrants were being held in overcrowded conditionsdescribed as a ticking time bomb."In one room at Customs and Border Protections Fort Brown station near the U.S-Mexico border in Texas, 51 women were in a cell with a capacity for 40 juveniles,according to the reportfrom the Department of Homeland Securitys inspector generals office. In another cell, 71 men were in a cell designated for 41, the report said.
Trump was dismissive of the report, saying the facilitieshevisited wereclean and well run.
I think they do a great job with those facilities, Trump said.