As he kicks off his 2020 campaign, President Trump has threatened that ICE will deport "millions" of undocumented immigrants in the US next week. What does this mean?
Trump has indicated that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will step up efforts to remove immigrants without access to legal documents from the United States next week.
In two tweets written Monday night, he said that "Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. They will be removed as fast as they come in."
He also seemed to give updates on the US' negotiations with Central American countries to step up their efforts to prevent asylum seekers from crossing the US border, writing "Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people.......... long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement."
And accused Democrats of perpetuating the "Border Crisis", saying "The only ones who won't do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!"
....long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement. The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2019
What exactly this means for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US is still unclear, as department spokespeople have declined to provide any further details on ICE's plans for next week or Guatemala's status on a Safe-Third agreement, which would see them commit to resettling refugees who arrive on Guatemalan soil.
One administration official who spoke with NPR news on the condition of anonymity said that Trump's comments refer to the more than 1 million undocumented immigrants in the US with existing orders of deportation who have not yet been removed.
The unnamed official said:
"There are more than 1 million illegal aliens who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges yet remain at large in the country. These judicial removal orders were secured at great time and expense, and yet illegal aliens not only refuse to appear in court, they often obtain fraudulent identities, collect federal welfare, and illegally work in the United States. Enforcing these final judicial orders is a top priority for Immigration and Customs Enforcement — willful defiance of our laws and the defrauding of the American People with fraudulent asylum claims, will not be tolerated."
According to the Washington Post, ICE officials said they "were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter," and officials with knowledge of the proceedings described the preparations as "not imminent."
There is some speculation that Trump wanted to take a stronger stance on undocumented immigrants as he prepares to launch his 2020 campaign at a rally in Orlando, Florida tonight. Building a border wall and taking a hardline approach to immigration was a key promise of his 2016 campaign.
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