House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican leader Kevin McCarthy clashed Thursday over a planned nationwide immigration enforcement operation expected to begin this weekend targeting people who are in the United States illegally. (July 11)
MIAMI — As the sun rose over the East Coast on Sunday, immigrants were relieved to find that the federal raids promised by President Donald Trump had not yet materialized.
The president confirmed the raids would start Sunday, leading many to worry that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would follow their usual procedure of conducting pre-dawn raids to round up immigrants. But as night turned to day on Sunday, immigration attorneys and advocates around the country said they had not heard any reports of ICE activity.
“All quiet so far,” said Melissa Taveras of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, which is running a hotline for immigrants but had only received a couple of calls Sunday morning from immigrants asking about their legal rights if ICE agents came knocking on their door.
In Baltimore, the only noise around an ICE field office in downtown came from a fountain at the center of a plaza. No ICE agents scurrying about, no immigrants being brought in, just a few people asleep on benches outside.
“We’ve not heard anything,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on MSNBC shortly after 9 a.m. on Sunday.
ICE officials have been quiet about their plans, leaving immigrants and the advocates who have mobilized around the country to protect them unsure about when, or if, the raids would start.
Those advocates have been warning that the raids would tear apart families and sow further mistrust of the government. In preparation, advocates staffed hotlines, printed fliers with legal information and activated networks of volunteers to monitor and document the raids.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said Friday that the city’s police would not cooperate with any ICE operations and that the city was gearing up to protect its immigrants. “If you want to come after them, you’re going to have to come through us,” she said.
In Denver and other cities, government human-service workers were on standby to find foster homes for any children left behind if their parents were detained and marked for deportation. In many cases, immigrants who lack legal permission to remain in the United States have minor children who are U.S. citizens.
Immigration reform advocates expected that communities around Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco would be targeted in the raids expected to last through at least Thursday. Trump said convicted criminals in the country illegally are being targeted first.
“It starts on Sunday and they’re going to take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. “We are focused on criminals as much as we can before we do anything else.”
The Trump administration argues the nation’s immigration laws have long been ignored, and that tougher enforcement is necessary because Democrats in Congress have failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, while critics say the president’s hardline stance is aimed at bolstering his support among conservatives who make up his base. They called the raids heartless and unwarranted, citing the United States’ long history of welcoming refugees and immigrants.
The ACLU filed a lawsuit to stop the raids and subsequent deportations, arguing that many of the targeted people were unaware they were subject to what’s known as a “final order of removal” because federal officials did a poor job of proving accurate court dates and appointment updates.
“These refugees failed to appear because of massive bureaucratic errors and, in some cases, deliberate misdirection by immigration enforcement agencies,” the ACLU said in a lawsuit filed Thursday. “The agencies’ flagrant and widespread errors made it impossible for people to know when their hearings were being held.”
Contributing: Morgan Hines in Baltimore.
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