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Immigration raids are controversial, sometimes even within the presidential administrations that oversee them. In fact, a top member of current President Donald J. Trump’s cabinet was essentially forced out for not being as aggressive on immigration as Trump wanted (though his administration is not yet on track to match the record-high number of deportations executed under former President Barack Obama’s watch). So when Trump announced earlier this month that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would carry out mass immigrant detainment and deportation sweeps starting June 23rd, people across the country reacted fervently.
However, on June 22nd, Trump delayed these immigration raids.
The delay might not last long: Trump has postponed the raids for just two weeks, a period during which he hopes Congress can modify the country’s asylum laws in a manner that satisfies him. According to an anonymous source with inside knowledge of the president’s decision, Trump decided on the delay when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, personally called him on June 21st and urged him to cancel the raids. The following day, Trump tweeted that his choice to delay the raids came “at the request of Democrats.” Trump also repeated his promise to carry out the raids if Congress does not meet his asylum law requests within the two-week grace period. Pelosi, in response, advocated for a comprehensive immigration package through which the approximately 11 million immigrants who live in the U.S. illegally can obtain formal citizenship.
It is thus highly likely that Trump’s immigration raids will indeed happen in two weeks, as White House sources expect that congressional Democrats will not agree to the terms Trump will set. Although Democrats and Republicans are currently working together to devise a budget for aiding the high number of immigrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, an anonymous Democratic congressional aide claimed that, had the raids been executed as planned, Democrats would have walked away from all negotiations. To date, the negotiations have secured $4.5 billion in immigration enforcement and humanitarian aid. None of this money would go towards enforcing changes in asylum law, as there is currently no budget for making such changes.
Should Trump’s immigration raids proceed, they would target over 2,000 migrants who received ICE letters in February. The Justice Department has fast-tracked these immigrants’ cases to discourage immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. ICE has sent similar messages of discouragement: In a statement issued the same day as Trump’s chose to delay the raids, a spokesperson for the agency promised that a lack of changes from Congress would do nothing to decrease the high number of immigrants already being detained. Furthermore, the agency’s acting director, Mark Morgan, suggested that Trump’s raids would be a proportionate response to immigrants ignoring ICE’s letters. Morgan claimed that the immigrants being targeted in these raids have not appeared at their immigration court dates despite having access to attorneys, due process, and interpreters.
Despite Trump and Morgan’s words, immigration rights advocates have unilaterally condemned the raids. Whether Trump does indeed carry out these raids remains to be seen.