Washington: On the weekend, a nationwide wave of arrests of immigrants being deported begins, US President Donald Trump said Friday, confirming that the plan, intended to discourage a wave of Central American migrants, was on track after a delay.
The operation is expected to target hundreds of families in 10 cities that have recently been deported by an immigration court but have not yet left.
Trump revealed the operation on Twitter last month and then postponed it. It is unusual for the government to announce deportations early. "People are entering the country illegally, we are taking them in legally," Trump told reporters on Friday and called it a "major operation" that focused primarily on removing criminals.
In a typical week, the US Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) arrest thousands of immigrants residing illegally in the country, according to government records. Most arrests are made without prior publicity.
The president, who spoke to journalists in the White House on Friday, said he was not afraid that the pre-targeted announcement could help immigrants escape arrest. "If the word becomes known, it disappears," he said.
Since Trump first spoke of the plan, a number of mayors of the city, almost all Democrats, have repeated their long-standing policy of not cooperating with ICE officials on deportations and have advertised help lines that people can call to understand their rights. .
Democratic lawmakers, among other things, have also tried to inform immigrants about their rights, and told them not to open their door to ICE unless agents suggested a court-issued warrant, and not to say or sign anything before to speak to a lawyer.
Damage border crossings
Trump, a republican who has brought down illegal immigration as the center of his administration, is trying to tackle a wave of predominantly Central American families crossing the border between the United States and Mexico. Many families are approaching border officials to seek asylum.
The most recent planned arrests would spread widespread criticism of the overcrowded, unsanitary conditions under which immigrants are detained along the southwestern border, and keep concerns about children separated from adults by border officials.
During a hearing on the subject on Friday in the US House of Representatives, some Democrats said they feared that the upcoming arrests could lead to more immigrant children being separated from their families.
Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Surveillance and Reform Commission, asked a federal watchdog about his recently issued report saying detention conditions were below the norm.
Jennifer Costello, the Acting Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, told the Congress hearing that the government was failing in terms of & # 39; pressure, long-term detention, some of the hygiene the children should have & # 39 ;.
Costello said it would be "impossible" to meet the required standards under "the circumstances we saw there". "It's shocking," she said.
Reporters taken in
Trump visited Vice President Mike Pence on Friday to visit some of the criticized detention facilities in McAllen, Texas, along with journalists who generally had no access to detained immigrants.
Pence visited a crowded and filthy smelling facility where nearly 400 men are held behind metal gates, some sleeping on concrete after being accused of illegally crossing the border with the United States.
The Trump government has stepped up the pressure on the governments of Mexico and several Central American countries to prevent the flow of migrants reaching the border with the United States.
Trump will have a meeting with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales in the White House on Monday for talks about immigration and security. Morales can sign an agreement with Trump that calls Guatemala a safe destination for asylum seekers, which, according to officials in both governments, could prevent many people from applying in the United States.
In addition to these international efforts, Trump has sought to deter border crossings with highly published crackdown in the United States.
The operation that Trump said would start on Sunday is an example. ICE is expected to target families whose immigration cases were settled through an accelerated legal process that began in 2018.
The agency has informed about 2,000 of those people that they are experiencing deportation because they did not appear in court, acting ICE director Mark Morgan said last month.
Immigration rights activists have complained that in many cases immigrants, especially those involved in accelerated hearings, are not informed in due time of their court data.
ICE has refused to discuss the operation of the weekend, including whether these families belong to the target group.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit this week to stop the arrests. They asked a court to prevent the deportation of asylum seeker families who missed their session dates until at least they had a hearing.
The Mexican government said on Friday that it would increase consular assistance for US residents "who may have to do with possible migration operations," but did not provide further details.
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