The acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said the government is “ready” to identify, detain, and deport the illegal immigrants who have ignored court orders to leave the country.
“They’re ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find and detain and then deport the approximately one million people who have final removal orders,” Ken Cuccinelli said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Cuccinelli was referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency with the Department of Homeland Security that’s tasked with locating and deporting aliens living in the U.S. illegally.
“Who among those will be targeted for this particular effort, or not, is really just information kept within ICE at this point,” the acting USCIS director explained.
Cuccinelli’s comments come after President Donald Trump announced — and then later scrapped — plans in June to conduct sweeping ICE raids across the country. The raids would’ve targeted major U.S. cities and roughly 2,000 undocumented immigrants who are disobeying deportation orders.
Trump, at the time, said the raids were postponed in order to work with Democrats on a solution to the immigration crisis, but other accusations make it unclear why exactly the raids were called off. The president now appears ready to move forward with the mass deportation plan.
“These are people where we have their papers, we’ve gone through the court system. They’ll be starting fairly soon, but I don’t call them raids. We’re removing people that have come — all of these people over the years — that have come in illegally. We are removing them and bringing them back into their country,” Trump said to reporters Friday.
When host Margaret Brennan asked if Cuccinelli’s statements mean ICE would be targeting a far larger number of illegal aliens than just a few thousand, the USCIC chief hedged, pointing out that he was just referring to the pool of people given final removal orders.
Cuccinelli, who was tapped by Trump to lead USCIS in June, pointed out the irony in how much controversy ICE has garnered over reports that it’s conducting one of its main duties.
“It’s important to note, here we are talking about ICE doing its job as if it’s special. And really this should be going on on a rolling basis for ICE. And they’ve been interfered with effectively and held up by the politics of Washington to a certain extent and they’re looking forward to just getting back to doing their job,” he said. (RELATED: DHS Veterans Blast Democrats For Wanting To Decriminalize Illegal Immigration)
The USCIS chief called on Congress to change asylum and human trafficking laws, and to put a “fix” on the Flores settlement, to help stem the immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.
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