US President Donald Trump, in a Monday night tweet, appeared to tease a massive Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation that he said was poised to begin next week.
Trump said ICE would soon “begin the process of removing … millions of illegal aliens” from U.S. soil. “They will be removed as fast as they come in,” he said.
The president did not elaborate on what operation, if any, he was referring to — but Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff suggested Trump was alluding to an earlier White House scheme to arrest and deport thousands of families.
The Post and The Associated Press reported last month that officials at the Department of Homeland Security had secretly mulled a plan to arrest thousands of undocumented migrant parents and children in coordinated raids conducted across the U.S. The idea, however, was reportedly shelved due to a lack of resources and concerns about public outrage.
“Usually major operations of this sort are considered ’law enforcement sensitive’ and a closely held secret, not telegraphed by the president,” Miroff said.
In his Tuesday tweet, Trump also praised Mexico for “using their strong immigration laws” to stop undocumented migrants from reaching the U.S. border.
Guatemala, the president added, was “getting ready” to sign a safe third-country agreement with the United States. The pending agreement would require that people fleeing persecution in El Salvador and Honduras seek asylum in Guatemala.
If Guatemala does sign the protocol, it will be the first Latin American country to enter into such an agreement with the U.S.
Activists have lambasted the proposed agreement. New York-based rights group Human Rights First said in a statement last week that it was “simply ludicrous” for the U.S. to suggest that Guatemala ― which also suffers high levels of violence ― would be capable of protecting refugees.
“The Trump administration is doubling down on its efforts to block, bar and punish refugees for attempting to seek asylum in the United States,” a spokeswoman for the group said, Reuters reported. “These policies put the lives of refugees in great danger.”