A US Border Patrol agent speaks with Central American immigrants at a border fence in Texas. Getty Images
The Trump administration is ready to deport about a million illegal immigrants, said acting director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli on Sunday.
Officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security are preparing an operation that would target migrants a judge has ordered deported, he said.
”They’re ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find and detain and then deport the proximity one million people who have final removal orders. They’ve been all the way through the due process and have final removal orders,” Cuccinelli said during an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” ” Who among those will be targeted for this particular effort, or not, is really just information kept within ICE at this point.”
While saying the pool is “enormous,” Cuccinelli walked back the number moments later when told reports said the number would be in the “thousands.”
“I’m just pointing out that the pool of those with final removal orders … is enormous. And 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,” said Cuccinelli, who oversees the agency that administers the country’s immigration system.
Trump announced last month in a tweet that ICE agents “will begin deporting the millions of illegal aliens who have found their way into the United States.”
But then the president said he would delay that operation for two weeks to give congressional lawmakers time to reform the country’s asylum laws.
The Trump administration has lagged behind former President Obama’s in deporting illegal immigrants.
Under Obama, ICE deported around 385,000 people annually each fiscal year from 2009-2011 and reached a high of 409,000 in fiscal year 2012.
The numbers fell below 250,000 in fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
Under Trump, deportations fell to 226,000 in fiscal year 2017 and climbed slightly to more than 250,000 in fiscal year 2018.
So far this fiscal year, deportations have hit 282,000.