President Donald Trump announced Saturday over Twitter that he will delay for two weeks a controversial plan that would deploy Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to raid the homes of undocumented immigrants in several major U.S. cities.
“At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border,” Trump wrote.
He added: “If not, Deportations start!”
ICE would have targeted around 2,000 families who received deportation orders in Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston, among other cities, according to three unnamed U.S. officials with knowledge of the orders who spoke with The Washington Post.
On Monday, Trump hinted via Twitter that the agency would soon begin rounding up undocumented immigrants across the country, with the goal of ultimately removing “millions.”
Officials hoped a flashy show of anti-immigrant power would discourage migrants from attempting to reach the U.S.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the plan ― which could cause many families to be separated ― was “heartless” and implored the president to halt it.
“These families are hard-working members of our communities and our country,” she said in a statement earlier on Saturday.
“It is important that the President and our immigrant communities know that they have rights in America,” she said, going on to quote Ronald Reagan on the merits of immigration.
Mayors in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and Baltimore issued warnings to their respective immigrant communities, with some declaring that they had ordered local law enforcement not to cooperate with ICE.
The Trump White House reportedly asked Department of Homeland Security officials to consider the raids earlier this year, but the idea was tabled due to a lack of resources, sapped by relentless overcrowding at the southern border.
The White House later began circumventing acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan in order to communicate directly with acting ICE chief Mark Morgan about the raids, the Post reported ― even though ICE operates under DHS. McAleenan had reportedly cautioned against enacting the plan. He warned that it might result in family separation in cases where children were at day care or others’ houses.