SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- The ACLU late Thursday morning announced it has filed a preemptive lawsuit against the Trump administration to try to stop planned ICE raids this weekend.
Five immigration legal services organizations filed a lawsuit Thursday to protect the refugees being targeted by the raids. The groups -- represented by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, New York Civil Liberties Union, and the law firm Munger, Tolles, & Olson LLP -- argue that constitutional due process requires the government to bring these families and children before an immigration judge so they can have a fair day in court before facing deportation.
According to the ACLU, the suit aims to protect refugee families and children, many of whom the ACLU says have fled widespread violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and other counties at the hands of their governments and dangerous gangs.
"The Trump Administration's plan to arrest and deport thousands of Central American families and children without giving them a fair day in court is both illegal and immoral," said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior counsel at the ACLU SoCal. "More than one hundred years ago, the Supreme Court decided that immigrants could not be deported without due process. These vulnerable refugees deserve that basic protection."
According to published accounts earlier Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids targeting thousands of undocumented immigrants in several major U.S. cities could reportedly begin as soon as this Sunday.
The New York Times reported that 2,000 immigrants in 10 major cities would be targeted. ICE would not confirm the exact dates or locations of the raids.
Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted out a video Thursday, saying that -- regardless of immigration status -- California residents should be prepared for the raids and be aware of their rights.
"I just want to stay to folks that are anxious about a knock on the door, when we talk about knowing your rights, no abras la puerta," Newsom said in the clip. "Without a warrant, you don't have to open the door. Without a warrant, you do not have to open the door."
Senator Kamala Harris also tweeted about the raids Thursday morning. "These reports of mass ICE raids are extremely disturbing. Targeting families does not make us safer. Californians: be prepared," her tweet read.
Immigrant families who are here illegally are the ones who need to be concerned.
"There's approximately a million people in this country with removal orders," Ken Cuccinelli, acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Service Office told KPIX 5.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said the city has a hotline for anyone with concerns. People with worries about the possible ICE raids can call 415-200-1548.
San Francisco Police Chief Tony Scott confirmed his department would not be involved in the weekend raids.
"We don't participate in immigration enforcement at all," said Scott. "So if that call were to come to us, to assist for immigration enforcement, we do not support that. We won't assist."
Last month, the Washington Post reported the raids would target San Francisco and other major cities with large immigrant populations.
The operation was postponed last month after President Donald Trump tweeted about it, in part because of resistance by immigration officials who were worried about separating parents from any children who may be U.S. citizens.
The Times' sources said family members arrested together will be held in family detention centers in Texas and Pennsylvania. But due to space limitations, some might end up in hotel rooms until their travel documents are ready.
Early Thursday morning, ICE gave KPIX 5 a statement saying in part, "ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security."
"However, all of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and - if found removable by final order - removal from the United States," the statement went on to say.
KPIX 5 got in touch with DHS to ask what happens if a deportee has a child that is a citizen. They replied, "ICE does not interfere in the parent's decision to allow their child to remain in the U.S. to pursue his or her own legal claim. Alien parents who are ordered removed can elect to be removed with their children or without their children (potentially selecting a family member or someone they trust to care for their child)."
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