Immigrant waiting to board a plane for a deportation flight
Photo: David J. Phillip/AP

Less than a week after President Donald Trump threatened to deport “millions” of people on Twitter, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin the process of raiding cities with large immigration populations with the intention of arresting and deporting thousands of families, the Washington Post reported Friday.

According to the Post, ICE will begin its operation of terror on Sunday, targeting up to 2,000 families with deportation orders in as many as 10 cities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Three anonymous U.S. officials told the publication that ICE has been preparing agents and equipment for the “family op,” as it’s called within ICE and the Department of Homeland Security. As part of the operation, ICE is planning on using hotel rooms to detain parents and children until the rest of their family members are detained, such as if children are away at summer camp or at a friend’s house.

Trump’s urging of the deportation of millions reportedly goes against the warnings of acting DHS Sec. Kevin McAleenan, who has instead asked ICE to target 150 specific families who were given attorneys but have abandoned legal proceedings. McAleenan specifically worried about separating families by indiscriminately targeting parents at home and work.

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The president reportedly pushed out former DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen and former acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello for getting in his way and opposing this family raid. Subsequently, Trump has reportedly kept McAleenan out of the loop to work with now-acting ICE director Mark Morgan on the raid.

And while Trump’s tweets about the raids—clearly an effort to illustrate his commitment to cracking down on immigration and gain political points—reportedly “stunned” law enforcement officials at first, according to the Post, they’ve since leaned into the public nature of the raid as preferable to the backlash resulting from the “zero tolerance” family separations last year. From the Post, emphasis mine:

Law enforcement officials worry that by publicly discussing the plan, Trump has undermined the chances of capturing those on the target list, as it likely pushed migrants with deportation orders underground.

But others say the president’s advance warning was welcome because of the public distrust generated by “Zero Tolerance.”

“‘Zero Tolerance’ was not telegraphed and didn’t come out very well, so now the idea is to make sure everyone knows what’s coming,” one senior administration official told the Post. “The thinking is, ‘Let’s do this a different way, by explaining that these are people with final removal orders who have refused to go.’

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To be clear, none of these family deportations, no matter how few or argued as justified by DHS, are “good.” This is de facto family separation all over again, no matter how much ICE says they’ll try to keep families together. None of this “transparency” bullshit matters anyway, because ICE doesn’t actually care about who they’ll arrest during the raid. From the Post:

Officials also acknowledge that they might arrest individuals they cannot immediately deport — known as “collateral arrests” — and likely will release those people with ankle monitoring devices.

[...]

ICE agents have limited intelligence on the locations of the families with court-ordered deportations beyond their last known addresses. But White House and ICE officials believe agents will be able to make many “collateral arrests” by vacuuming up foreigners living in the country illegally at or near the target locations.

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As he always does on immigration, Trump got what he wanted. And as we’ve seen, he will replace anyone with any amount of shame who even thinks about getting in his way.

Update, 4:00 p.m. ET: CNN and NBC are backing up the Post story, with both networks also reporting that the ICE raids will start on Sunday.