President Donald Trump has postponed Sunday’s planned deportations of undocumented immigrants in 10 cities, including Los Angeles, for two weeks to give Congress a chance to work on the immigration problem, the president announced in a tweet Saturday.
“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. If not, Deportations start!” Trump tweeted at 11:56 a.m. Pacific time.
Federal authorities had been expected to round up around 2,000 people named in court-ordered deportation warrants nationwide, with about 140 believed to be in the Southland.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had no immediate reaction to the president’s announcement. Local law enforcement officials including the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which had stressed that they were not going to be involved in Sunday’s planned action, also did not immediately comment on Trump’s tweet.
The Associated Press reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had called Trump on Friday asking him to call off the operation. Unnamed administration officials also told The AP that ICE was concerned about the safety of its agents after details leaked to the media.
On Saturday, hours before the tweet, Trump said of those slated for deportation: “These are people that came into the country illegally. They’ve been served. They’ve gone through a process. A process of the courts, and they have to be removed from the country. They will be removed from the country.”
In a statement on Friday, ICE said that it “prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” and stated that 90 percent of migrants arrested by ICE last year had a criminal record or pending charges.
The LAPD “is aware of upcoming Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions beginning this Sunday, directed toward individuals who have been issued final deportation orders,” officials said Friday. “These enforcement actions will include individuals residing in the Los Angeles region. The department is not participating or assisting in any of these enforcement actions.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed his opposition to the raids.
“Los Angeles will always stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters, and our law enforcement officers will never participate in these actions,” Garcetti said Friday. “No Angeleno should ever have to fear being snatched from their home or separated from their loved ones — and we are doing everything we can to provide immigrant families with the information and support they need.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the proposed raids “cruel, misdirected and are creating unnecessary fear and anxiety.”
Newsom said he wanted state residents to know “they have legal rights and protections, regardless of their immigration status. California is a place of refuge — that includes our schools, our courts and our hospitals and clinics. We hold certain institutions sacred and people should continue to access programs and services they need.”
Immigration service providers reported that some communities were increasingly worried about the forthcoming actions.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook with immigrants calling and asking what their families can do in case a member is arrested by immigration authorities,” said coalition member Alicia Flores, executive director of the Hank Lacayo Youth and Family Center in Panorama City.
“We cannot afford a repeat of the mass raids and deportations against the Mexican community during the 1930s,” said Gloria Saucedo of the Centro Mexico community center in the San Fernando Valley. “That is why we are going to mobilize and organize our community like never before.”
Civil rights activist John Fernandez, a retired teacher who taught for 24 years at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, said that undocumented immigrants should remember their rights if confronted by ICE agents.
“If they happen to come to your door, they cannot come in without a warrant,” he said. “Do not say anything and do not sign anything.”
The Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs advised members of the public if they are outside their home to ask the immigration agent if you are free to go and if they say yes, to leave peacefully but if they say no, ask to call your attorney.
The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a community advisory for immigrant families that might be targeted beginning this weekend, reminding them of several rights, including the right to have an attorney present when speaking with federal authorities.