Thousands of undocumented immigrants waited in uncertainty on Sunday, fearful of the nationwide raids promised by President Donald Trump, but there were no immediate signs of any large-scale operations.
Even as news media said the raids were underway, Trump added to the divisive debate on migration, suggesting on Twitter that some Democratic Congresswomen should “go back” to their countries of origin.
Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were expected to conduct raids in at least 10 major cities Sunday, with plans to arrest about 2,000 undocumented migrants who entered the United States recently.
The operation appears far more modest than the “millions” Trump had promised would be detained and expelled when he first mentioned the raids last month.
Matthew Albence, ICE’s acting director, would not confirm any operational details on Sunday, but defended the need for the raids.
“We are doing targeted enforcement actions against specific individuals who have had their day in immigration court and have been ordered to be removed by an immigration judge,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”
“We are merely executing those judges’ orders.”
Activists patrolled the streets of several of major cities to document any arrests and offer assistance to anyone detained.
But while there were scattered reports of possible ICE activity, there were no signs of a large-scale sweep.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had heard of three ICE raids Saturday, but none resulted in arrests.
In Florida, ICE agents were seen knocking on doors near Miami International Airport and in a nearby migrant farming community, the Los Angeles Times reported, but no arrests were reported.
The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun reported little evidence of any large-scale ICE operations. The Sun said few immigrants were seen around Baltimore on Sunday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said authorities in that city had reportedly rented vans for use in raids.
Meanwhile, those likely to be targeted were living in uncertainty.
Adding to their concerns were reports that ICE agents are prepared to scoop up not just those named in removal orders but others whom agents might come upon incidentally, potentially including migrants who have been in the country for years.