Immigration and Customs Enforcement is scheduled to move forward with an operation targeting migrant families with court-ordered removals that had previously been called off by President Donald Trump, according to a US official.
ICE, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, is charged, in part, with deporting undocumented immigrants. A senior immigration official told CNN that the details of the ICE operation, currently slated to start on Sunday, will be largely the same as the one postponed last month.
The New York Times first reported on the upcoming raids, saying they are expected to take place in at least 10 cities. The raids will occur “over multiple days” and will include “collateral” deportations in which “authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.”
Who is targeted and why
The migrant families expected to be targeted recently arrived to the US.
In February, ICE sent around 2,000 letters to families who already had received final orders of removal by judges in absentia, asking them to self-report to local ICE offices by March to comply with the orders.
The upcoming operation is expected to target approximately 2,000 people, according to a senior immigration official.
Last year, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the nation’s immigration courts, announced that it had begun tracking family cases filed by the Department of Homeland Security in 10 immigration court locations and those cases are being expedited to try to process the families in under a year.
Then-acting ICE director Mark Morgan said last month that ICE had worked closely with the Justice Department on the family expedited docket and that the “results were very disappointing,” claiming that some families haven’t attended their immigration hearings.
Where the raids are expected to take place
The senior immigration official tells CNN that the operation is expected to target some 2,000 family members with court orders of removal and take place over several days in 10 cities across the nation – Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco.
The city of New Orleans said on Twitter that it confirmed with ICE that “immigration enforcement will be temporarily suspended through the weekend” in areas of Louisiana and Mississippi impacted by tropical storm Barry.
What happens to those who are arrested?
There are additional legal steps that migrants could take in the event that they’re arrested, therefore it’s unlikely that all those targeted would be immediately deported.
In some cases, for example, an individual may be ordered removed because he/she didn’t show up to their immigration court hearing. If the reason the individual didn’t appear is because they weren’t provided notice of the date, time and place of their immigration hearing, that individual could file a motion to reopen their case.
Others could file a motion to reopen if conditions have deteriorated in their home country since the date they were ordered deported.
Trump has so far deported fewer people than Obama
According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics, 256,085 people were deported in fiscal year 2018, up from 226,119 removals in fiscal year 2017.
That’s still significantly less than the number of people deported during fiscal year 2012, when the Obama administration deported more than 400,000 people.
Staffing limitations and budget constraints generally limit how many people the US can detain and deport – and how quickly that process happens. While the Trump administration has said it still focuses on criminals, there was an uptick in the number of people arrested by ICE without criminal records. Crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor.
In Trump’s first year, ICE arrested 109,000 criminals and 46,000 people without criminal records – a 171% increase in the number of non-criminal individuals arrested compared to 2016.
CNN first reported in May that the administration had been considering deporting migrant families with court-ordered removals in an attempt to “send a message” to smugglers, according to a senior administration official.
As part of the consideration, the administration had been looking at an operation rolled out in the late years of Obama’s presidency – and revived in Trump’s first year in office – that also targeted families.
In 2017, ICE apprehended 650 individuals during a four-day operation, dubbed Operation Border Guardian/Border Resolve, which targeted families and unaccompanied children. According to the agency, it was the second iteration of the operation which had also taken place at the start of 2016 following an uptick in families and unaccompanied children crossing the border illegally.
Similar to the upcoming ICE operation, all individuals had court-ordered removals.
CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.