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ICE sweeps pushed by Trump to target undocumented families yield few arrests

ICE raids yield few arrests
ICE raids yield few arrests 04:39

A recent wave of roundups by immigration authorities targeting undocumented families with final orders of removal — a crackdown actively pushed by President Trump — yielded few apprehensions.

The sweeps, which targeted about 2,000 families, resulted in 35 people being apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, the agency announced Tuesday. Among them were 18 members of the families targeted and 17 so-called "collateral arrests" — apprehensions of people who are undocumented but who were not directly targeted by the operation.

Although the results of the operation suggest it was far more limited in scope than expected, many immigrant communities across the country have still been on edge since the president threatened mass raids in June, only to later postpone them.

The threats of a large-scale deportation blitz — which president said would led to "millions" being deported — prompted advocacy groups to mount an unprecedented campaign to inform undocumented immigrants of their rights and prepare them for a potential encounter with ICE agents.

The public results of the roundups might quell some fears but during a call with reporters on Tuesday, Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence stressed that the operation is "ongoing," saying his agents will continue to target families with final orders of removal in the coming weeks and months.

35 arrested in ICE raids 01:56

He characterized the sweeps as part of an effort to help officials dealing with the months-long, but slowly dwindling surge of Central American families heading towards the U.S.-Mexico border and to preserve the integrity of the immigration system.

"Part of what we need to do to try to stem the tide at the border is (to) have a strong interior enforcement component," Albence said.

The ICE chief also strongly pushed back against the term "raids" and the notion that the agency is conducting indiscriminate roundups across the country. He said he was not aware of an operation during the recent sweeps that resulted in the separation of a mixed-status family.

This operation is targeting undocumented families in an expedited docket in the immigration court system. According to ICE, these unauthorized immigrants were ordered deported by a judge for failing to appear in court and also received notification from the agency to arrange their deportation.

Albence, like other administration officials, said these people already enjoyed "due process" in the immigration system and refused to show up to court. This claim is strongly disputed by advocates and attorneys, who point to bureaucratic errors and other reasons — like the lack of legal representation — that lead migrants and immigrants to miss court; and thus, ordered deported "in absentia."

Separately, Albence also announced the results for so-called "cross check" operations, which target people with orders of removal and criminal convictions. From mid-May to mid-July, he said ICE apprehended nearly 900 people in these "extremely successful" sweeps that picked up people with criminal charges of domestic violence, driving while intoxicated, illegal firearm use and others, labeling some of these people "recidivist criminals" and "very serious individuals."

He also described a worksite enforcement "surge" in which agents issued more than 3,000 notices to businesses across all states and Puerto Rico that the agency believes are employing people who are here illegally.

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