ICE Acting Director Says He Does Not Know When ICE 'Raids' Will End—Or How Many Will 'Ultimately' Be Arrested

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Matthew Albence has said he does not "know" when his agency's current operation targeting families with court-ordered removals will end or how many people it will ultimately target.

Asked by Newsweek during a telephone press briefing on Tuesday, Albence said he could not say when ICE's operation might conclude, leaving immigrant families across the country in the dark about whether they might be targeted over the coming months.

"We don't know how many arrests... We don't know how many targets are out there," Albence continued. "We can't tell you how many arrests are going to ultimately result from this."

So far, Albence said ICE has arrested 35 migrants as part of the operation targeting families, with the raids having been expected to target as many as 2,000 families overall, as The New York Times had first reported.

The ICE acting director said he was "not aware" of any families having to be separated for short-term detention purposes.

Asked by a reporter why the raids appeared to have fallen so short of the 2,000-family target, the ICE director warned that "this is just the beginning of the operation."

"We have a whole lot more information on which to work from," he said. "This is just a small snapshot of this time frame."

During the briefing, Albence, who sought to clarify that the recent arrests carried out by ICE were not "raids," but "targeted enforcement operations," said that he was aware that many immigrant communities were participating in "know your rights" training.

"Know your rights" awareness initiatives seek to ensure that immigrants who could be targeted by ICE know that that they are not required to open their doors, including the doors of their vehicles, to ICE agents, even when agents present an "administrative" warrant, which does not hold the same powers as a judicial warrant.

"You can turn on TV stations anywhere in this country without this being one of the lead topics," he said.

However, he said, "we're patient and we will continue to pursue these cases."

Many communities across the United States had been waiting for the operations to take place after President Donald Trump announced that mass arrests would be imminent.

The U.S. leader later postponed the raids, but then announced that they would soon begin shortly before they were launched last week.

Asked whether Trump announcing the raids early on had a negative impact on ICE's ability to successfully carry out arrests, Albence said he did not believe so.

Those who have received "know your rights" training and know what to do when they encounter ICE "may have escaped detention for a short time," he said, "but we're going to continue to be out there."

ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 31, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Albence has said he does not know when ICE's latest targeted enforcement operation will end or how many people will "ultimately" be targeted. Chip Somodevilla/Getty