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Following previous reports that President Donald J. Trump had delayed 2,000 immigrant raids, ICE is set to begin carrying out these raids this weekend. And following previous news that the Supreme Court had denied the administration’s initiative to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census, some reports have claimed that Trump will issue an executive order mandating the question’s addition. However, other sources have suggested that Trump will back off this contentious issue.
Regardless, one thing is clear: Trump is ramping up his anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Long before Trump secured his nomination as the 2016 Republican presidential candidate, reporters often described his platform as anti-immigrant. Hate crime incidents were reported at higher levels following his election. Trump’s actions regarding the U.S. census and immigration raids have thus renewed the conversation regarding whether his policies disproportionately affect people of color, and particularly the Latinx immigrant community. What is certain, despite debate on the motivations behind Trump’s actions, is that his administration is intent on deporting undocumented immigrants, even those who arrived in the U.S. here long before Trump began his 2016 election cycle.
This weekend’s planned immigration raids, for example, will be the start of a process that may target as many as one million people. Many of the immigrants rounded up in these raids may be held at immigrant detention centers, which have been criticized by members of Congress and U.S. residents alike for reported harsh and squalid conditions. This backlash has done little to impede the administration’s deportation efforts, as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting director Ken Cuccinelli just days ago promised that raids would occur.
The upcoming raids are starting this weekend because Congress has yet to pass comprehensive immigration legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has nevertheless lambasted the raids and encouraged immigrants to thoroughly memorize their rights in the event ICE raids their homes. Pelosi also stressed that a deportation order does not have the legally binding weight of a warrant, which is the only document that gives ICE power to detain a person.
Simultaneously, the Trump administration has been accused of using its potential immigration question on the U.S. census to discourage undocumented immigrants from filling out the census. Answering a question on the census asking whether someone is a citizen could, in theory, lead directly to a non-citizen being targeted for deportation. The vast majority of immigrants that ICE targets are Latinx people, so critics have pointed to this question as not just anti-immigrant, but racist in its execution.
Thus, some have felt relief at Trump’s suggestion that he will not issue an executive order mandating the question’s addition to the census. However, just hours before news of this decision broke, members of the presidential administration indicated that such an executive order would still be in the works. Whatever routes Trump takes towards finding out how many immigrants currently reside in the U.S., one thing is clear — his administration is prioritizing anti-immigrant policies.