ICE poised to launch de­por­ta­tion roundup

The Charlotte Observer - - FRONT PAGE - BY SOPHIA TAREEN AND COLLEEN LONG As­so­ci­ated Press

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is mov­ing for­ward with a na­tion­wide immigratio­n en­force­ment op­er­a­tion this week­end tar­get­ing mi­grant fam­i­lies, de­spite loud op­po­si­tion from Democrats and ques­tions over whether it’s the best use of re­sources given the cri­sis at the bor­der.

The op­er­a­tion had been post­poned by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump late last month and would tar­get peo­ple with fi­nal de­por­ta­tion or­ders, in­clud­ing fam­i­lies whose immigratio­n cases were fast-tracked by judges in 10 ma­jor cities, in­clud­ing Chicago, Los An­ge­les, New York and Mi­ami.

It has sparked out­rage and concern among im­mi­grantright­s ad­vo­cates and law­mak­ers.

“Our com­mu­ni­ties have been in con­stant fear,” Estela Vara, a Chicago-area or­ga­nizer said Thurs­day at a rally out­side the city’s Immigratio­n and Cus­tom En­force­ment of­fices where some ac­tivists chanted “Immigratio­n Not De­por­ta­tion!”

The sweep re­mains in flux and could be­gin this week­end or later, ac­cord­ing to two ad­min­is­tra­tion

of­fi­cials, who were not autho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter pub­licly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Still, the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union pre-emp­tively filed a law­suit Thurs­day in an at­tempt to pro­tect asy­lum seek­ers.

Mean­while, ac­tivists ramped up ef­forts to pre­pare by bol­ster­ing knowyour-rights pocket guides, cir­cu­lat­ing in­for­ma­tion about hot­lines and plan­ning pub­lic demon­stra­tions. Vig­ils out­side of detention cen­ters and other hun­dreds of lo­ca­tions na­tion­wide were set for Fri­day evening, to be fol­lowed by protests Satur­day in Mi­ami and Chicago.

The op­er­a­tion is sim­i­lar to ones con­ducted reg­u­larly since 2003 that often pro­duce hun­dreds of ar­rests. It is slightly un­usual to tar­get fam­i­lies, as op­posed to im­mi­grants with crim­i­nal his­to­ries, but it’s not un­prece­dented. The Obama and Trump ad­min­is­tra­tions have tar­geted fam­i­lies in pre­vi­ous op­er­a­tions.

But this lat­est ef­fort is no­table be­cause of the pol­i­tics swirling around it.

Trump an­nounced on Twit­ter last month that the sweep would mark the be­gin­ning of a push to de­port mil­lions of peo­ple who are in the coun­try il­le­gally, a near-im­pos­si­bil­ity given the lim­ited re­sources of ICE, which makes the ar­rests and car­ries out de­por­ta­tion or­ders.

Then he abruptly can­celed the op­er­a­tion after a phone call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, while law­mak­ers worked to pass a $4.6 bil­lion bor­der aid pack­age. Plus, de­tails had leaked, and author­i­ties wor­ried about the safety of ICE of­fi­cers.

The agency said in a state­ment that it would not dis­cuss specifics about en­force­ment op­er­a­tions.

“As al­ways, ICE pri­or­i­tizes the ar­rest and re­moval of un­law­fully present aliens who pose a threat to na­tional se­cu­rity, pub­lic safety and bor­der se­cu­rity,” ac­cord­ing to the state­ment.

Trump started hint­ing anew in re­cent days that more re­movals were com­ing. “Well, I don’t call them raids,” he said. “I say they came in il­le­gally and we’re bring­ing them out le­gally.”

Ken Cuc­cinelli, the new head of Ci­ti­zen­ship and Immigratio­n Ser­vices, told CNN on Wed­nes­day that the raids were “ab­so­lutely going to happen.”

Pelosi said she hoped the ad­min­is­tra­tion would re­con­sider. “Fam­i­lies be­long to­gether,” she said.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion has been strain­ing to man­age a bor­der cri­sis, and some of­fi­cials be­lieve flashy shows of force in de­port­ing fam­i­lies would de­ter oth­ers mi­grants from com­ing. But oth­ers have crit­i­cized any move that draws re­sources away from the bor­der at a time when the Bor­der Patrol is de­tain­ing four times the num­ber of peo­ple it can hold. Also, a watch­dog re­port found filthy, po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous con­di­tions at some sta­tions.

Demo­cratic Rep. Pramila Jaya­pal of Wash­ing­ton state, co-chair of the Con­gres­sional Pro­gres­sive Cau­cus and a former im­mi­grant ad­vo­cate, ac­cused the ad­min­is­tra­tion of show­ing a “will­ing­ness to be cruel at ev­ery turn. It sick­ens me that this is this is the United States of Amer­ica. We are so much bet­ter than this.”

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can, blamed Pelosi for the raids, say­ing she had done “noth­ing” since they were de­layed. “It is the speaker who caused this prob­lem,” he said. He said Trump would have post­poned the raids again if he saw progress in House.

Op­er­a­tions in New Or­leans were put on hold due to se­vere weather. The city tweeted that it con­firmed with ICE that en­force­ment would be sus­pended through the week­end as the re­gion braced for the first hur­ri­cane of the sea­son.

Some ac­tivists said they were gear­ing up for op­er­a­tions to start Sun­day and planned to protest. Or­ga­niz­ers es­ti­mated a rally planned for Satur­day in Chicago would draw around 10,000 peo­ple.

“We will not be swayed by fear and fiat,” said Justin Valas with Asian Amer­i­cans Ad­vanc­ing Jus­tice in Chicago.

The ACLU law­suit, filed in fed­eral court in New York, ar­gued that thou­sands of mi­grants flee­ing vi­o­lence in El Sal­vador, Gu­atemala and Hon­duras, were not al­lowed a fair chance to re­quest asy­lum due but were still or­dered re­moved from the coun­try. They are ask­ing that those in­di­vid­u­als get another hear­ing.

Oth­ers said they were skep­ti­cal that Trump would fol­low through on the threat.

AMR ALFIKY AP

Demon­stra­tors hold plac­ards Thurs­day dur­ing a rally out­side the U. S. Ci­ti­zen­ship and Immigratio­n Ser­vices of­fices in Chicago.

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