The Trump administration has ordered U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to launch a nationwide roundup of migrant families across ten cities starting this Sunday (June 23). As the Washington Post reports, the operation is being referred to as the "family op" by ICE and the Department of Homeland Security.
Up to 2000 migrant families are facing deportation orders. The cities being targeted include Houston, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and a number of other "major immigration destinations." ICE agents are expected to use hotel rooms as "staging areas" for which to detain parents and children until they've rounded up all members of the families together. There's also the possibility that ICE agents will arrest those they cannot deport immediately, and will release them with monitoring devices.
Donald Trump initially announced the operation on Monday with a series of vague tweets. "Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States," he tweeted. "They will be removed as fast as they come in." He used it as an another opportunity to criticize the Democrats.
Following Trump's tweets earlier this week, acting head of ICE Mark Morgan told reporters, "If you're here illegally, then you should be removed." An administration official spoke with CNN about the operation, which has been planned for a while. "Certainly, the President's tweet helped prioritize things for people," they explained.
In a statement on Friday, ICE added, "Due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency will not offer specific details related to ongoing enforcement operations before the conclusion of those actions." Morgan has stressed, possibly over concerns that the operation will further bolster calls to abolish ICE, that their goal "is not to separate families."
A number of advocacy groups are expected to mobilize ahead of the operation. The announcement of the operation arrives amidst continued criticism over migrant detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to the centers as "concentration camps," citing exceedingly poor conditions in which children are separated from their parents and kept in cages.
It has been reported that at least 24 migrants, including six children, have died at these detention centers. "This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying," she wrote in a tweet on Monday. "This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis."