June 23 (UPI) — Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Mark Morgan said he still has the “green light” to carry out deportations after President Donald Trump postponed raids scheduled for Sunday in multiple U.S. cities.
Appearing on the Fox News program Justice with Judge Jeanine on Saturday, Morgan said ICE will continue to carry out court-ordered deportations on undocumented immigrants regardless of immigration status in the time before the raids are set to begin.
“I’ve got the green light to anyone that’s here in violation of federal immigration law, I have the authority and the support to go after them, apply consequences and remove them,” he said.
Morgan said that ICE’s authority to pursue these actions was not just about the total number of deportations, which has been lower than during the Obama administration.
“We need to continue to do interior enforcement against anyone who is here illegally including families because if we do that, I promise the American people, we start removing people that had final orders including families, the numbers will go down, this crisis will be positively impacted.”
On Sunday morning, Trump tweeted that he is seeking to give Democrats “every last chance” to negotiate changes to immigration policies including asylum practices and “loopholes” for migrants to enter the United States.
“This will fix the Southern Border, together with the help that Mexico is now giving us,” Trump wrote. “Probably won’t happen, but worth a try. Two weeks and big deportation begins.”
The planned raids would target about 2,000 people throughout 10 immigration court locations including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco.
The delay is temporary reprieve for those fearing deportation.
“I feel happy for now. It’s just a relief,” an undocumented mother of two from Nicaragua told WFOR-TV.
“We still have the plan to move from this apartment and stay low,” said the woman, who didn’t want to be identified.
The mother has lived in South Florida for 20 years. Ten years ago she said she was ordered to leave but didn’t want to return to Nicaragua because she felt it was unsafe.
In Los Angeles, Carmen, an undocumented 17-year-old, said she was making preparations for being deported, including sharing her cellphone’s GPS location with family and friends, and communicating with her lawyer.
“I’m tired. I’m done,” Carmen told the Los Angeles Times. “What else is he gonna tweet? Tomorrow is he gonna say, ‘Just kidding, we’re starting the raids again’?”
She added: “People forget there are actual humans behind legislation and behind these tweets. It seems like it’s just a game for politicians.”
Angelica Salas, the executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, also was critical of Trump’s policies.
“I think it is so cruel what he is doing,” she said of Trump, adding the “level of dishonesty, in that he’s using the fear and people as leverage for his demands on Congress.”
Los Angeles law enforcement, like those in other cities, said they would not assist federal authorities in the deportation process. Instead, mayors saidthey will provide the families with information and support.
“Even law enforcement – our LAPD, our sheriff – everyone is saying this is the wrong way to do what you are doing,” Salas said. “I can only use the word ‘harmful.’ Others say ‘disgraceful.’ All those adjectives really speak to his lack of thinking through about the impact this has on communities.”
ICE sent around 2,000 letters to families in February with final orders of removal by judges in absentia, asking them to self-report to local ICE offices by March to comply with orders, Morgan said.
The agency had been preparing agents and equipment for the operation starting Sunday morning and lasting several days, officials told The Washington Post.