A US Immigration and Customs Enforcement official with knowledge of operations in several states says there has not been “any surge of arrests or activity or round-ups” in an operation to target thousands of undocumented immigrants subject to deportation orders.
While observers from 10 targeted cities have reported hearing of no significant action, the ICE official’s comment is the first acknowledgment from inside the agency that the first few days of the operation have not been as large-scale as suggested.
“This notion that we were going to do this massive sweep – to be honest, there have been limited results so far,” the official told CNN. “There have been no mass arrests.”
The official went on to tell CNN that ICE “does arrests every day,” but right now it’s “business as usual. “
Last week, a senior immigration official told CNN that the five-day operation would target some 2,000 family members with court orders of removal and take place over several days in the 10 cities across the nation – Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco. The raids were expected to focus on recent arrivals to the country.
Without providing any details about the number of arrests that had occurred, President Donald Trump insisted Monday that the raids had started and had been “very successful.”
“People came into our country illegally,” Trump said at the White House. “Many were felons. Many were convicted of crimes. Many, many were taken out on Sunday. You just didn’t know about it.”
Word of the planned raids has sent fear rippling through immigrant communities.
Some immigrant rights advocates have questioned whether the President and his administration had released details about raids simply as a scare tactic. Others cautioned that it’s too soon to say.
Administration sources have said the operation will continue through Thursday, meaning numbers of arrests could still rise.
ICE officials have told CNN the agency will not release specific details about the operation “due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement personnel.”
“As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” the officials said in an agency statement released to CNN in response to inquiries this week. The statement also noted that anyone who’s violated immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and possible deportation.
CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.