Trump Administration To Begin Mass Deportation Raids Sunday

The Trump Administration is expected to begin mass deportation raids as early as this weekend.

The New York Times reports that the Trump Administration is set to begin a series of what are being described as mass deportation raids this weekend, putting back in place a previously announced policy that had been put on hold just prior to the July 4th holiday:

Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday, according to two current and one former homeland security officials, moving forward with a rapidly changing operation, the final details of which remain in flux. The operation, backed by President Trump, had been postponed, partly because of resistance among officials at his own immigration agency.

The raids, which will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over multiple days, will include “collateral” deportations, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary stage of the operation. In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.

When possible, family members who are arrested together will be held in family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. But because of space limitations, some might end up staying in hotel rooms until their travel documents can be prepared. ICE’s goal is to deport the families as quickly as possible.

The officials said ICE agents were targeting at least 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered deported — some as a result of their failure to appear in court — but who remain in the country illegally. The operation is expected to take place in at least 10 major cities.

The families being targeted crossed the border recently: The Trump administration expedited their immigration proceedings last fall. In February, many of those immigrants were given notice to report to an ICE office and leave the United States, the homeland security officials said.

Matthew Bourke, an ICE spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesday that the agency would not comment on specific details related to enforcement operations, to ensure the safety and security of agency personnel.

The threat of deportation has rattled immigrant communities across the country, prompted backlash from local politicians and police officials and stoked division inside the Department of Homeland Security — the agency that is charged with carrying out the deportations. The Trump administration’s goal is to use the operation as a show of force to deter families from approaching the southwestern border, the officials said.

Agents have expressed apprehensions about arresting babies and young children, officials have said. The agents have also noted that the operation might have limited success because word has already spread among immigrant communities about how to avoid arrest — namely, by refusing to open the door when an agent approaches one’s home. ICE agents are not legally allowed to forcibly enter a home.

Immigration defense lawyers are likely to file motions to reopen the families’ immigration cases, which would significantly delay, if not stop altogether, their removal from the United States.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen reports of such raids, of course. It was some three weeks ago that The Washington Post first reported that such raids were only days away after threats of the same by the President on Twitter and had also been publicly signaled by immigration authorities. Even before that announcement, though it was apparent that there were doubts and concerns inside of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

At the same time, though, subsequent reports showed that there were conversations going on inside the Department of Homeland Security and inside the White House regarding the optics of separating parents and children and the problem of what to do with parents and children during the time before any hearings that might have to be scheduled in individual cases. These conversations apparently became more urgent as reports emerged from the border regarding the appalling conditions under which children who had been taken into custody at the border were being held, conditions which still have not been remedied.

One such report appeared around the same time the raids were being openly discussed in The New York Times. This report described tour of a facility in Texas housing children, some of them as young as 7 or 8 years old and detailed what can only be called inhumane and deplorable, with older teenagers forced to take care of younger children due to a lack of resources and children being housed in cages and going days without bathing or being allowed access to shower facilities. Similar reports have been published in The Washington Post, and by the Associated Press. In addition to this, attorneys for many of these migrant children are presented more details about the appalling conditions under which they are being held in court proceedings related to the Trump Administration’s separation and detention policies. In the three weeks that followed, many other reports, including reports coming from Members of Congress who have toured many of these facilities, have described children not being properly fed and adults who were being told to drink water out of the toilet when there wasn’t fresh potable water available. Most recently, reports have begun to emerge about alleged sexual abuse on the part of detention facility guards against young girls at some of these facilities. On top of all of this, the past several months have seen several children dying at these facilities for reasons that aren’t entirely clear but which are most likely related to the conditions in which they are being held.

In part because of these concerns, but also likely because the advance warning that the weeks of reporting about the raids had ruined any chance of a surprise advantage that ICE would have in calling out the raids, President Trump called the operation off. At the time he made the announcement, the President said that he was doing so to give Congress time to act to address the border crisis, a crisis that is large of his own making and could be ended by simple changes in policy by his Administration. The President also didn’t specify exactly what he wanted from Congress, and his statement that he was giving Congress two weeks to come up with something was unrealistic given the fact that Congress would not even be in session for the vast majority of that time period. In any case, while there was a funding bill related to detention facilities that passed the House, it has yet to make it to the President’s desk and it appears that it doesn’t meet whatever the President’s criteria might have been.

Of course, announcing the timing of the raids places ICE and the Administration it was in the last time. The announcement is likely to cause people who may be targets of the raids, or fear that they could be targets, to go even further underground. Granted this is harder to do for people who have families and jobs, but given the fact that these are people already used to living in the shadows, it wouldn’t be surprising if many of the potential targets have already taken steps to try to make sure they can’t be captured. Additionally, the time that has elapsed since the potential raids were announced has given groups who advocate for these people time to become organized and to advise people how to react if ICE does come to their door. As noted above, ICE agents are not authorized to enter a person’s home without consent so a simple act such as not answering the door, or not stepping outside if an ICE agent arrives at the door could frustrate enforcement authorities In other cases, the fact that these raids are beginning on a Sunday raises the possibility that some of these people will seek sanctuary in churches and other religious facilities, thus raising the prospect of standoffs between armed Federal agents and Priests and other religious figures. Not exactly the kind of thing that makes for favorable television coverage, except maybe on Fox News where they’re probably cheering stuff like this on enthusiastically.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    I give Trump absolutely no credit for having any humanitarian instincts, but he’ll probably let Sunday pass by without issuing any “go” order for this. If his cult notices, they’ll forget quickly.

  2. Barry says:

    @CSK: Probably, but note that we live at the Whim of the King.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Where have I heard this before? I’ll believe it when I see it. Until then it’s just another exercise in fear, a bully’s favorite weapon.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    The ugly and pathological desire of some to punch down. To kick the beggar. To spit in the face of those working 60 hours a week to pick your tomatoes. Just another reason I’ll never be a Republican, Tea Party member, Evangelical Christian, or Libertarian.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    You can’t beat something with nothing, and on immigration Democrats have nothing. We’ve been can-kicking this, reacting, getting sporadically upset, but we have yet to produce a realistic policy. We are very, very vulnerable on this issue because having no clear policy means you can be defined by the opposition and at the mercy of events beyond our control.

  6. Not the IT Dept. says:

    I make a prediction about how many seizures will go down: local town SWAT teams shows up and blows open the front door because there are drug dealers on the premises, order the inhabitants out to the porch, then while the SWAT team is “searching” and vandalizing the place, ICE agents who’ve been hiding in the bushes come forward and arrest the inhabitants for deportation. Then Republicans will claim that they’re only deporting criminals who are harming America.

    Tell me this isn’t going to happen. Go ahead, tell me.

  7. Blue Galangal says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: Only because I think you give them too much credit for foresight and strategy. They don’t seem to understand what mobilized 2018 voters and they’re getting ready to do it all over again, with the ACA thrown into the mix. It’s beyond comprehension.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: That would actually go against Trump’s plan. After all, that’s what Obama did – arrest and deport only those involved in serious crime. Trump’s whole purpose in this is to show he is willing to go after the average law abiding guys mowing lawn your lawn or the maids making the beds in the local Holiday Inn. Even if it means separating them from their American children.

  9. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Marked Man: of course the targeted deportees aren’t guilty of any crime; they’re not drug dealers at all. What I’m saying is that the gullibility of the American public is such that including the SWAT team in the process will result in the wide presumption of guilty because, hey, why else would the SWAT team be there in the first place, right?

    ICE is very aware that simply arresting people gets the public angry. So tar them as criminals and you can do whatever you want with them.

  10. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We are very, very vulnerable on this issue because having no clear policy means you can be defined by the opposition and at the mercy of events beyond our control.

    You mean that decriminalizing border crossings and abolishing ICE isn’t a policy? What about stop putting children in cages?

    I know that Warren and Beto have more than that, and one of the 1%ers (former HUD secretary, I want to say Cisneros?), but they aren’t putting it front and center and getting past the “Trump is terrible” noise. To be fair, it’s a lot of noise, both the Trump being terrible, and the people talking about Trump being terrible. Children in cages is one hell of a distraction.

  11. JImbo in OPKS says:

    I love it how all the Democrats hate it when people with final deportation orders get arrested and deported. “But Jimbo, no one’s for open borders,” if i’ve heard it once I’ve heard it 1,000 times. Every candidate for the Democrat ticket is full on open borders.