President Donald Trump confirmed Friday that potentially 2,000 undocumented immigrants would be swept up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in raids over the weekend.
“It starts on Sunday and [ICE is] gonna take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries or they’re gonna take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison in the countries they came from,” Trump told reporters outside the White House before departing to an event in Wisconsin — he was joined by secretary of labor Alex Acosta, who earlier in the day announced his resignation. “We’re focused on criminals as much as we can… we’re taking them out by the thousands, we’re getting them out.”
But on Monday Trump called the raids “very successful,” though no reports of major ICE raids were released over the weekend.
“Many, many were taken out on Sunday, you just didn’t know about it,” Trump told reporters at a Made in America Showcase event hosted by The White House. “I spoke to the head of ICE, I spoke to a couple of people, we had many people — it was a very successful day. But you didn’t see a lot of it.”
Trump did not say how many were arrested.
Last week, The New York Times cited three anonymous Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials who discussed the plan to detain and deport families who have received a deportation notice, and “collateral” immigrants who happen to be near the raids at the time — potentially detaining children.
Matthew Bourke, an ICE spokesperson, said in a Thursday statement to TIME that the agency would not discuss details related to enforcement operations. “As always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security….However, all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and—if found removable by final order—removal from the United States.”
The recent threat of ICE raids began on June 17, when President Donald Trump shared on Twitter that ICE raids would begin in the week to come. Many became critical of the move, including Democrats and members within the ICE and DHS agencies, and on June 22, Trump announced a two-week delay on the raids 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.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the ICE raids “brutal” and said they would “tear families apart” at a Thursday press conference. “Families belong together, everyone has rights…We pray that the President thinks about this,” Pelosi said after reading aloud legal advice for undocumented immigrants.
The operation, known as “Family op” by ICE and DHS according to The Washington Post, planned to target immigrants who received a deportation notice—many of whom failed to show up to their immigration hearing.
Immigration attorneys are arguing that deporting undocumented immigrants who have not had the chance to appear before a judge to plead their case is unlawful, and four legal aid and advocacy organizations including the ACLU have filed a joint lawsuit against the Trump Administration. The lawsuit argues that many immigrants did not show up to their hearings because of bureaucratic errors and misdirection by immigration enforcement agencies. “The agencies’ flagrant and widespread errors made it impossible for people to know when their hearings were being held,” the ACLU wrote in a public statement on Thursday.
Here is what we know so far about the planned ICE raids.
What has happened so far
ICE has initiated deportation raids in cities across the the U.S. according to a CNN source. There have been some reported details of the raids, though a full accounting of the operation has not yet emerged. ICE did not respond immediately to a TIME request for comment on Sunday.
In New York City, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs confirmed reports of unsuccessful ICE enforcement activity in three locations around the city on Saturday. Two of the actions took place in the neighborhoods of Sunset Park in Brooklyn, and a third in East Harlem in Manhattan, according to eyewitness accounts reported to the Mayor’s office. No arrests were reported to the Immigrant Affairs Office.
The Mayor’s office has activated their ActionNYC hotline, which provides city-funded immigration legal assistance.
“In the face of heartless raids that would tear families apart, we remain steadfast in our commitment to support and defend immigrant communities,” said Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the New York Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, in a statement to TIME.
On Friday, Mostofi sent a letter to the director of the New York ICE Field office to express her “deep concern” regarding the agency’s upcoming enforcement actions.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also confirmed that ICE enforcement actions were underway in the city on Saturday. De Blasio has previously stated that New York City would not cooperate with ICE.
Leaders and local law enforcement in multiple cities around the country have spoken out against the ICE raids and pledged to support their immigrant communities.
What exactly was expected to happen?
Major cities across the country are the targets of the ICE raids. According to legal nonprofit RAICES, those cities are Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City and San Fransisco—all cities with large immigrant populations.
Starting Sunday, and over the course of the days after, it is understood that immigrants who have received a notice of deportation will be arrested. “Collateral” arrests are expected to happen, according to the Times, meaning undocumented immigrants caught in the middle of a raid might also get arrested even if they might not have been the original target.
“We anticipate that there will be many people who are unlawfully picked up this weekend,” Jess Morales Rocketto, chair of Families Belong Together, an immigrant advocacy organization, tells TIME. “They will be United States citizens, children of United States citizens and others.”
Julie Pasch, an immigration attorney with the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative, says she expects to see children detained along with their parents—which ICE can legally do if the child has final orders of removal from the U.S.
“I can only imagine how terrifying that would be for a young child who sees his or her parents arrested in handcuffs and then to be led away with them in what is very much an arrest. I can only imagine how horrifying that would be,” Pasch tells TIME. “But if what happens this weekend follows what has been said and what has been reported, I think we will likely see that.”
Many city and state leaders have come forward to defend immigrants, including Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot, New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and California Governor Gavin Newsom. The offices have also been spreading legal advice to their constituencies.
“The President’s planned ‘ICE raids’ will make us less safe,” Vance said in a public statement. “They will further erode the trust and partnership built over decades between undocumented New Yorkers and law enforcement agencies like mine that proudly serve and protect them. They will make undocumented people less likely to report a violent crime against themselves or their neighbors, and less likely to testify in court to help us bring that assailant to justice. They will not deliver ‘law and order,’ but rather greater impunity for criminal perpetrators.”
What are the laws about ICE raids?
ICE raids have been a common practice for years before the Trump Administration began. Surprise workplace raids or raids targeting a specific individual were frequent throughout the Obama Administration as well, and have happened ever since ICE and DHS were established in 2002, under the Bush Administration in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Ohio saw one of the largest ICE raids in the agency’s short history when 200 federal agents arrested 114 undocumented immigrants at a gardening center in Sandusky on June 6, 2018.
“And that was considered to be a very strict roundup,” Rocketto says, comparing the 114 arrests last year to the 2,000 people ICE plans to detain this weekend.
“They’re not signaling that this is a one-time operation either,” Rocketto adds. “So if they’re consistently trying to get to 2,000 people every time they do a raid, that is very scary.”
Legally, ICE is within its rights to detain and deport anyone who has already received a final removal order, according to Pasch. However, immigrants, no matter their legal status maintain some constitutional protections. They have the right to remain silent, and ICE agents need a permit signed by a judge in order to enter their home. Undocumented immigrants also have the right to plead their case before an immigration judge, but do not have a right to government-appointed legal council.
What should you do if ICE picks you up?
Pasch, Rocketto, organizations and government offices across the country advise that undocumented immigrants who are worried they might get arrested by ICE have a phone number memorized for an immigration lawyer, a qualified immigration nonprofit, a hotline or a loved one who can contact an attorney on their behalf.
“I think the single most important thing that people who might be impacted can do is be aware of their rights,” Pasch says. “Go visit an immigration lawyer or a qualified immigration nonprofit and see if there’s anything that you can do to preemptively work on your immigration case.”
Even those who cannot afford a lawyer can still access legal information at free clinics organized by nonprofits in almost every major city.
Pasch and Rocketto add that an order for removal may not necessarily be the end of an undocumented immigrant’s case, and some might still have a chance to appeal it.
“We also advise people to stay calm and remain silent,” Rocketto says. “That way agents cannot use anything [immigrants] say against them.”