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Miami will be one of the first cities where U.S. immigration authorities will target people for deportation as early as this Sunday, according to sources who were briefed on the enforcement action.
Immigration agents will target Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, and San Francisco this weekend, sources from congressional offices and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement told the Miami Herald.
Earlier this week, a Trump administration official confirmed that ICE will specifically target for deportation as many as 1 million people “who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges yet remain at large in the country.”
Among those to be targeted first, sources said: minors who came into the U.S. without their parents and have since turned 18; people who were ordered removed in absentia; and people who missed a court hearing and did not respond to letters mailed to their homes by the Department of Justice.
Also targeted: families on the so-called rocket docket, a slate of cases fast-tracked for deportation by the Justice Department.
Two ICE enforcement briefings were held this week, one on Wednesday, led by ICE Deputy Director Matthew T. Albence, the other on Thursday by Henry Lucero, field office director for the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations in Phoenix.
On the call led by Albence, the target cities were mentioned, although the timing was not shared.
The plan might also focus on a very targeted population: recent arrivals from the border with a final order of removal. In certain communities, including South Florida, these families have received “case management” services from an ICE contractor, or might still be in detention. ICE would have access to the information provided to the case manager, including addresses and contact information for these clients.
People rounded up for deportation will be held at family detention centers. During Lucero’s briefing, he said if there were to be U.S. citizen children involved, a parent or guardian would be issued an ankle monitor while they made arrangements on where the child will stay as deportation proceedings move forward.
Lucero said that in March about 2,100 people got letters in the mail asking them to go to immigration court, but that only 65 showed up. The remaining received orders for deportation.
Miami-Dade Police said in a statement Friday night the organization has no knowledge of or role in the deportations.
South Florida immigration attorneys criticized the enforcement action.
“We are now seeing the further radicalization of Trump’s already extremist anti-immigrant agenda,” said Thomas Kennedy, spokesman for the Florida Immigrant Coalition. “The Florida Immigrant Coalition condemns these raids that will only serve to cause chaos and fear within our communities and go against our core values as Americans.“
Rebecca Shi, executive director of the American Business Immigration Coalition, said, “Mass deportations are economically harmful, morally indefensible and politically stupid. We will continue work to protect families and grow the economy.”
On Friday, Juan Perez, Miami-Dade’s police director, said his officers would not join any ICE raids that may be conducted in the county this weekend. “We are not participating,” he said. “That’s the message.”
News of the potential ICE raids sparked a string of statements from Miami elected leaders on Friday. Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, a Democrat running for county mayor in 2020, called for an immediate briefing on how the county police department would respond to raids. “We must continue efforts to remove dangerous criminals,” she said. “But given the Trump Administration’s inhumane treatment of children and targeting of families fleeing political oppression, these raids call for close monitoring.”
That prompted a written response from Miami-Dade’s Republican mayor, Carlos Gimenez, who is term-limited out of office in 2020.
“I encourage my colleagues not to allow the political climate to impact their actions as the election cycle nears,” wrote Gimenez, who oversees the county police department.
Miami’s Republican mayor, Francis Suarez, said in his statement saying criminals should be deported, citing “dangerous gang members who came here illegally” as an example. “As Mayor, I trust that only those individuals who represent a clear and present danger to our communities will be affected by this [federal] policy.”