The Trump administration said Saturday it would delay a massive nationwide deportation operation in order to give Democrats and Republicans in Congress an opportunity to make changes the president is seeking to the country’s asylum laws.
“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,” President Trump tweeted Saturday morning. “If not, Deportations start!”
Earlier in the week, he had tweeted that the government would start deporting “millions” of undocumented immigrants this week –even though the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency lacks the resources to deport more than a small fraction of that.
On Saturday, several outlets reported that ICE would launch a smaller deportation operation on Sunday, targeting individuals with court-ordered removal notices in some 2,000 families in 10 cities, including Los Angeles. Los Angeles Chief of Police Michael Moore said that his department received information from ICE, indicating there would be 140 deportation attempts in Southern California.
CNN reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the President on Friday night and asked him to call off the deportations scheduled to begin on Sunday. The White House confirmed there was a phone call conversation between the President and the top Democratic leader.
But The Hill reported that the raids may have been postponed because a leak from the Department of Homeland Security threatened the integrity of the operation and put ICE agents in jeopardy. CNN, which broke the story about the operation targeting the 2,000 families, quoted an unnamed “top immigratino official” as its source.
“Any leak telegraphing sensitive law enforcement operations is egregious and puts our officers’ safety in danger,” an ICE spokeswoman said in a short statement released Saturday.
On Sunday, the president reiterated his administration’s intention to launch the deportations if an agreement was not reached by Congress.
“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!”