President Trump tweeted out a terrifying message on Monday night threatening that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency would begin making mass arrests of undocumented immigrants across the country “next week.”
Plans for mass arrests by ICE have been in place for awhile, but have yet to be acted upon, according to the Washington Post. Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and former acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello were reportedly unwilling to go along with the plan, fearing bad PR, and were ousted soon after.
In his tweets, Trump referred to a possible deal with Guatemala to divert asylum seekers. Vice President Mike Pence said last week that Guatemala could potentially receive asylum seekers from other Central American countries, according to Reuters. However, many migrants who have asked for asylum in the U.S. over the last several years come from Guatemala. The country hasn’t confirmed the apparent talks about this plan.
Human Rights First, a U.S. advocacy group, told Reuters that it was “simply ludicrous” to assume Guatemala could protect asylum seekers.
Mexico has already agreed to allow migrants claiming asylum in the U.S. to stay in Mexico while their cases are processed, though there are doubts about whether the country can adequately protect those people.
On Monday, Trump made good on a long-threatened plan to cut aid to three Central American countries—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—where many current asylum seekers originate.