President Trump called off a round of deportations slated to begin Sunday, saying he was delaying them for two weeks at the request of Democrats — though he said both sides need to use the time to strike a broader deal on stopping new illegal immigrants.
The surprise move came just hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requested the delay, calling the planned deportations too cruel.
“At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!” the president said on Twitter.
Just hours earlier Mr. Trump had said he was committed to the deportations, calling them an important consequence.
“When people come into our Country illegally, they will be DEPORTED!” he’d tweeted.
U.S. Immigration and Customs had sought to make good on that stance with plans to begin searching out and deporting thousands of illegal immigrants who’d been ordered removed by a judge, have exhausted their cases, but are defying the orders.
Mr. Trump’s move seems to suggest optimism about striking a deal — though the gulf between him and Democrats is giant.
Mrs. Pelosi, in her statement Saturday, suggested there is no cause to deport any illegal immigrant who hasn’t amassed a serious criminal record.
“These families are hard-working members of our communities and our country,” Mrs. Pelosi said in calling for an end to the ICE plans.
She added: “The president’s action makes no distinction between a status violation and committing a serious crime.”
What Mr. Trump calls loopholes, Democrats call important humanitarian protections in the law.
For example, the migrants being targets in the ICE operation came to the U.S. as families. Some took advantage of the distorted asylum system that makes it easy to make a claim of asylum — earning a foothold here — even though that claim is likely to be rejected later.
Other migrants arrived figuring they could take advantage of a court-ordered policy that requires migrant families to be released within 20 days of their arrest — far too short a time to finish their court cases. Once out in the community, their court cases get put on hold and they often ignore summonses.
Those are the two problems Mr. Trump demanded action on in his Saturday afternoon announcement of a two-week delay.
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