Nationwide planned raids to apprehend thousands of undocumented illegal immigrants with court orders for removal began this past weekend in nine cities, according to a U.S. official.
Senior immigration officials told CNN that the raids are scheduled for Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami New York, and San Francisco. The ICE raids began late Saturday evening, and continued into the early morning hours on Sunday in several jurisdictions. New Orleans was also scheduled to be included in the immigration raids, but the city indicated that immigration enforcement would be temporarily suspended through the weekend as they were dealing with the arrival of Tropical Storm Barry.
While Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Matthew Bourke told reporters that the agency would not be commenting on the specific details of the raids, he did say that their primary focus is on immigrants that they consider to be dangerous. “ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security,” he said.
ICE released a report on Sunday to illustrate the necessity for removing those who have committed crimes from the U.S. The “Declined Detainer Reports,” details incidents from the second quarter of fiscal year 2018, where law enforcement agencies arrested undocumented immigrants then ignored ICE requests to hold them until federal authorities could pick them up. Once released, those individuals committed more crimes and were then arrested on new charges including rape, murder, assault, burglary, car theft, drug possession, and DUI.
When asked about details of the raids, acting ICE Director Matt Albence told Fox News that when the agency conducts any sort of enforcement operation, the concern is “the safety and security of both our officers that are conducting the operation as well as the public.” When asked about the targets, he indicated, “We are doing targeted enforcement actions against specific individuals who have already had their day in immigration court and have been ordered to be removed from the U.S. by an immigration judge. We are merely executing those lawfully issued judge’s orders.”
Albence also indicated that he thought the term “raid” is a poor choice of wording, as it does everyone “a disservice.” He said that the agency is focusing on people who had the opportunity to make an asylum claim in front of a U.S. immigration judge and chose not to do. Those individuals were also given opportunity in February to arrange for a peaceful deportation, but only 3 percent of those illegal immigrants responded to the letters they received.
Due to their failure to accept the peaceful removal, there is no other option. “At this point, we have no choice but to go out and execute those lawfully-issued removal orders from an immigration judge,” Albence told Fox News.
Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection and former head of ICE said that the raids were about “enforcing and maintaining the integrity of the system.” This is about the rule of law,” Morgan said. “Those individuals who remain here illegally, especially those who’ve received due process more than any other nation in the world would provide someone that came here illegally, to including those with final orders, that there are consequences to those that remain here illegally. That’s what today is about.”
In addition, he criticized mayors of cities who resisted the crackdown, calling their actions “unconscionable.” “This is about going after individuals here illegally,” he said. “Any city, any law enforcement agency that resists, does not cooperate, they’re actually putting those cities in higher danger.”