President Donald Trump said his administration will carry out nationwide raids starting on Sunday to remove those in the country illegally.
“I have an obligation to do it,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday. “They came in illegally, they go out.” Asked how many would be removed, Trump said: “We’ll be taking them out by the thousands.”
Trump said the raids would focus on criminals. He previously postponed the enforcement operation, saying he wanted to give lawmakers more time to change existing immigration laws.
The raids are expected to take place in at least 10 major cities and target at least 2,000 immigrants who have been ordered deported but remain in the country illegally, according to the New York Times.
Trump has focused on cracking down on undocumented immigration — one of his signature issues — for weeks as his 2020 re-election campaign gets underway. He prodded Mexico to take steps to block migrants from crossing into the U.S. after threatening the country with tariffs on goods last month.
Trump dropped plans for tariffs after a June 7 agreement with the country that called for Mexican authorities to take new steps to prevent migrants from crossing Mexico into the U.S. Trump said on Friday that Mexico has done “an outstanding job.”
The administration said this week that the number of people caught illegally crossing into the U.S. or turned away at the Mexican border dropped to 104,000 in June, compared to 144,000 a month earlier.
Still, it’s not clear how much of the decrease can be attributed to hotter temperatures versus Mexican law enforcement efforts along migration routes. The number of migrants apprehended in June were still more than double the same time a year ago.
Members of Trump’s administration, including acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, objected to initial plans for the raids, the Times reported, arguing their sweeping nature could result in family separations.