Just hours after he defended his order for nationwide raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport thousands of families on Sunday, Donald Trump reversed course and said the raids would be delayed by two weeks pending negotiations between Democrats and Republicans.
As usual, Trump made the announcement via Twitter, saying he was responding to a request by Democrats.
“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,” Trump wrote. “If not, Deportations start!”
The raids had been planned for 10 major U.S. cities on Sunday.
Before Trump’s announcement on Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement calling on Trump to stop “his heartless planned immigration raids.”
“Tomorrow is Sunday, and as many people of faith attend religious services, the President has ordered heartless raids. It is my hope that before Sunday, leaders of the faith-based community and other organizations that respect the dignity and worth of people will call upon the President to stop this brutal action which will tear families apart and inject terror into our communities,” Pelosi said.
Following Trump’s announcement, Pelosi tweeted, “Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together.”
Earlier in the day before leaving for Camp David, Trump told reporters at the White House that the raids would soon begin.
“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,” Trump said, according to CNN. “They will be removed from the country.”
Trump’s constant strategy of dictating irrational or inhumane threats only to call them off at the last minute and claim victory is becoming increasingly common as he eyes reelection in 2020 amid falling poll numbers. In addition to temporarily calling off the raids, which were widely condemned by rights groups, Democrats, and pretty much anyone with a sense of decency, Trump also has threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border, impose tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico, and attack Iran.
Stable genius, indeed. More like unstable idiot.
The nationwide ICE raid, which would have targeted some 2,000 families who had received deportation orders in 10 U.S. cities—including Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Houston—was so unpopular that not even his acting secretary of Homeland Security appeared to be on board.
According to The Washington Post’s Nick Miroff, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan had urged ICE, which is part of the agency he runs, to conduct a “more targeted operation” that would focus on 150 families, instead of thousands.
McAleenan has warned that an indiscriminate operation to arrest migrants in their homes and at work sites risks separating children from their parents in cases where the children are at day care, summer camp or friend’s houses. He also has maintained that ICE should not devote major resources to carrying out a mass interior sweep while telling lawmakers it needs emergency funding to address the crisis at the U.S. border.
Trump reportedly bypassed McAleenan and dealt directly with Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan and other ICE officials regarding the details of the raid, which Trump first announced on Twitter last Monday. In that tweet, Trump praised Mexico and Guatemala for committing to help curb the number of migrants that originate in, or migrate through, those countries on their journey to seek asylum in the U.S. But he also criticized Democrats in the U.S., blaming them for what he characterizes as a “crisis” at the southern U.S. border.
“The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum! If so, Border Crisis will end quickly!”
Update, Saturday, 6:54 p.m. ET: A couple takes: