WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. cities expecting to be hit by a wave of immigration raids intended to deport recently arrived families who are in the United States illegally said on Friday they would not cooperate with federal authorities.
In a call with reporters earlier this week, Mark Morgan, the acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the agency would target for deportation families that have received a removal order from a U.S. immigration court.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that the operation is slated to launch on Sunday and is expected to target up to 2,000 families facing deportation orders in as many as 10 U.S. cities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.
A spokesman for ICE declined to comment, saying it would not offer details on operations before their conclusion.
Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she had terminated ICE’s access to Chicago Police Department (CPD) databases related to federal immigration enforcement activities in response to the threat of raids.
“I have also personally spoken with ICE leadership in Chicago and voiced my strong objection to any such raids. Further, I reiterated that CPD will not cooperate with or facilitate any ICE enforcement actions,” Lightfoot said in a statement.
The Los Angeles Police Department said in a series of tweets it would not participate or assist in the immigration enforcement actions.
Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner noted in a statement the “rich cultural contributions” of the city’s immigrants, and said: “The city does not try to do ICE’s job, nor does it try to impede ICE.”
Morgan said earlier this week that ICE wanted to deport families who had recently arrived illegally in the United States to discourage more Central Americans from arriving.
The number of migrants apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexico border surged in May to the highest level since 2006.
Most of the migrants are fleeing violence, poverty and corruption in Central America, and are seeking asylum, a process that can take years. Many families are released into the United States for the duration of the process because of limits on how long children can be detained.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Separately, the governor of Texas said the state was deploying 1,000 National Guard troops to the border after he said more than 45,000 people were apprehended illegally crossing in the past three weeks.
(Reporting by Kristina Cooke and Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O’Brien)