Trump threatens to deport ‘millions’ beginning next week

National News

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is threatening to remove millions of people living in the country illegally on the eve of formally announcing his re-election bid.

In a pair of tweets Monday night, Trump said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would next week “begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”

“They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he wrote.

An administration official said the effort would focus on the more than 1 million people who have been issued final deportation orders by federal judges but remain at large in the country. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to explain the president’s tweets.

KXAN reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for more details on this operation and have not yet heard back. Even that 1 million person figure could be high.

According to data from the Department of Justice, less than 50,000 of those removal orders are issued every year; this year, however, those orders are coming faster, at more than 5,000 a month.

That disparity in numbers is common says St. Andrew’s Pastor Jim Rigby, and it contributes to the immigrant community’s distrust in ICE.

“To promise one thing and then just use a wide net. So they say they’re going after specifically criminals but then they describe everyone as criminals,” said Rigby. “When ICE lies to people and says come to court, we won’t deport you, and then they deport people. That gets around.”

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is part of the Austin Sanctuary Network, groups that provide services to immigrants facing deportation. Many churches are off limits for ICE arrests because of Federal policy. Two immigrants facing deportation are living in St. Andrew’s.

“They came here to escape danger. They’re trying to go through the process,” said Rigby. “There is no process outside the United States. Once they’re in, they’re criminals. They’re treated like criminals.”

It is unusual for law enforcement agencies to announce raids before they take place. Some in Trump’s administration believe that decision shows of force — like mass arrests — can serve as effective deterrents, sending a message to those considering making the journey to the U.S. that it’s not worth coming.

Trump has threatened a series of increasingly drastic actions as he has tried to stem the flow of Central American migrants crossing the southern border, which has risen dramatically on his watch. He recently dropped a threat to slap tariffs on Mexico after the country agreed to dispatch its national guard and step-up coordination and enforcement efforts.

A senior Mexican official said Monday that three weeks ago, about 4,200 migrants were arriving at the U.S. border daily. Now that number has dropped to about 2,600.

Immigration was a central theme of Trump’s 2016 campaign and he is expected to hammer it as he tries to fire up his base heading into the 2020 campaign.

Trump will formally launch his re-election bid Tuesday night at a rally in Orlando, Florida — a state that is crucial to his path back to the White House.

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