After speaking to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi late Friday night, President Donald Trump decided to delay mass deportation raids by two weeks, a White House official confirmed.
His announcement that the targeted deportation efforts — which were expected to start Sunday in 10 U.S. cities, including Miami —would be delayed came Saturday afternoon. Trump said in a tweet that he hopes Democrats and Republicans can work together to work a solution to the “asylum and loophole problems on the Southern Border.”
Shortly after the president’s post, Pelosi tweeted: “Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform.”
Sources told the Miami Herald plans were canceled after they were leaked to the media and because there was not enough space at detention centers.
Trump’s post comes about 24 hours after the Miami Herald revealed ICE’s plan to target people that met certain criteria as early as Sunday.
The news sent the South Florida community, as well as those in Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco into a spiral of fear after a Trump administration official confirmed that ICE will specifically target for deportation as many as 1 million people “who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges yet remain at large in the country.”
Sources told the Miami Herald that among those to be targeted first would be: minors who came into the U.S. without their parents and have since turned 18; people who were ordered removed in absentia; and people who missed a court hearing and did not respond to letters mailed to their homes by the Department of Justice.
Saturday morning, Pelosi, a Democrat, released a statement calling on the administration to halt immigration raids.
“Tomorrow is Sunday, and as many people of faith attend religious services, the president has ordered heartless raids,” she said. “It is my hope that before Sunday, leaders of the faith-based community and other organizations that respect the dignity and worth of people will call upon the president to stop this brutal action which will tear families apart and inject terror into our communities.”
South Florida immigration lawyers say they are doubtful of the president’s announcement and that they believe their clients could still be in immediate risk this weekend.
“They still have orders of removal. They have their information or their last known address. They have the funding and the officers,” said Sandy Pineda, who works out of South Florida. “This may be a way for law enforcement to catch them off guard.”
She added: “Sundays are ideal. Not a lot of law firms are open and available. Florida is not a sanctuary state anymore, so people can’t go to a church or a place that they can’t be arrested at. This is playing with people’s lives.”
Attorney Tammy Fox-Isicoff told the Herald the president’s statement “serves as a wake-up call.”
“It reminds those with final removal orders that they are vulnerable to deportation and the reprieve provides them with an opportunity to seek legal counsel to determine whether anything can be done to set aside their removal orders,” Fox-Isicoff said.
Thomas Kennedy of the Florida Immigrant Coalition told the Herald “we have seen time and again Trump use people as political pawns for his goals.”
“This time is no different, and he has caused fear and chaos within communities and homes while playing political games,” he said. “We don’t trust him and we will continue to prepare accordingly to protect and defend immigrant families.”
The president’s advance warning as he prepares his bid for the 2020 election blew ICE’s cover and tipped off targets, sources say, inflaming the law enforcement community. The news quickly sparked a string of statements from Miami elected leaders on Friday.
Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, a Democrat running for county mayor in 2020, called for an immediate briefing on how the county police department would respond to raids. “We must continue efforts to remove dangerous criminals,” she said. “But given the Trump Administration’s inhumane treatment of children and targeting of families fleeing political oppression, these raids call for close monitoring.”
That prompted a written response from Miami-Dade’s Republican mayor, Carlos Gimenez, who is term-limited out of office in 2020.
“I encourage my colleagues not to allow the political climate to impact their actions as the election cycle nears,” wrote Gimenez, who oversees the county police department.
Miami’s Republican mayor, Francis Suarez, said in a statement that criminals should be deported, citing “dangerous gang members who came here illegally” as an example. “As Mayor, I trust that only those individuals who represent a clear and present danger to our communities will be affected by this [federal] policy.”
“The president saw the universal repudiation of this deportation policy by mayors most affected and the business communities. So he backed off,” Rebecca Shi, of the American Business Immigration Coalition, said Saturday. “Solutions to immigration challenges have to be bipartisan and negotiated. We need serious solutions, not election year posturing.”