House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Tuesday that illegal immigrants shouldn’t be deported unless they have a “serious crime” history, as she urged President Trump to cancel plans for a major operation to deport illegal immigrants.
In this case, the migrants have already been ordered deported by a judge and exhausted their appeals but are defying those orders to remain in the U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has planned a sweep to try to find thousands of them who are at large in the community.
But Mrs. Pelosi said they should be left free.
“These families are hard-working members of our communities and our country,” Mrs. Pelosi said in a statement.
She added: “The president’s action makes no distinction between a status violation and committing a serious crime.”
The penalty for being in the country illegally is deportation. Beyond that, the group ICE is reportedly targeting — families who jumped the border in recent years hoping to make bogus asylum claims or take advantage of loopholes — mostly snuck across the border, which is also a crime.
Mr. Trump, frustrated with the impunity of the border crossers, said the government cannot allow them to remain without consequences.
“When people come into our Country illegally, they will be DEPORTED!” the president tweeted.
In order to have been ordered deported, the migrants must have had any asylum claims rejected.
Yet Mrs. Pelosi still cast the targeted migrants as refugees in her statement Saturday.
She also said that the ICE action would “tear families apart.” She did not say how.
For the most part, the migrants being targets 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.
A recent pilot program saw the Justice Department and ICE speed up cases for families, trying to see what would happen.
ICE says 90 percent of them didn’t show for their hearings, and were ordered deported in absentia.
ICE then contacted 2,000 of them, offering a chance to arrange their deportations in an orderly fashion. Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan says most “refused to comply.”
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