Mark Avery / AP file
Prior to the initial NBC News report, another spokeswoman for ICE, Jennifer Elzea, had said the agency was “not able to speculate about potential future targeted enforcement actions.”
The raids were scheduled over five days beginning Sept. 17, and were called “Operation Mega,” according to the document, a memo circulated agency-wide in August.
It is not unusual for ICE operations to target immigrants by the hundreds or even low thousands. The higher-than-usual target number may have been partially driven by an effort to reach a deportation goal by the end of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, one of the officials said.
The cancelled operation comes on the heels of Trump’s controversial decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,
known as DACA, that allows some immigrants who were brought into the United States as children to stay.
Trump Ends DACA Program, No New Applications Accepted
ICE had been planning the operation internally since mid-August and had instructed officers in the field to target adults deemed to be gang members or perpetrators of serious crimes, said one of the officials. Other undocumented immigrants not suspected of crimes may have been swept up in the raids as “collateral,” the official said.
Immigration agents often only arrest one-quarter to one-half of the target population due to the difficulty of locating individuals and getting them to open their doors to agents.
Robyn Beck / AFP – Getty Images, file
Operation Mega would not have targeted juveniles, one of the officials said. And
DACA recipients are not at risk for deportation until March 5, 2018, the date President Trump set the program to expire if Congress does not act to make it law.
Department of Homeland spokesman Dave Lapan said earlier Thursday that immigration agents would cease to target non-criminal immigrants seeking relief from Hurricane Irma. The agency followed the same protocol in areas of Texas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey last week.
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