Top Trump Immigration Official Says ICE to Begin Deporting 1 Million Undocumented Immigrants

One of the Trump administration's top immigration officials said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is preparing waves of operations to remove a total of one million migrants who have been ordered deported by judges.

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), said the Department of Homeland Security's removal branch is set to execute a plan to find, detain and ultimately deport at least a million migrants who have surpassed final removal orders. Cuccinelli said President Donald Trump will make good on his threat to deport "millions" of migrants.

Last month, Trump postponed the ICE deportations — which would have only affected a few thousand migrant families, according to reports — for two weeks as Congress debated potential reforms to asylum laws which never found bipartisan agreement. On Friday, Trump said the roundups would begin "fairly soon."

Cuccinelli backed up Trump's deportation plan, saying the American people should not be surprised by such removal operations, and the ICE migrant roundups have simply been "held up" by Washington political games.

"They're ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find and detain and then deport the approximately one million people who have final removal orders," Cuccinelli told CBS News' Face the Nation Sunday. "They've been all the way through due process and have final removal orders."

"Who among those will be targeted for this particular effort or not is information just kept within ICE at this point," he added, regarding the identity of the migrants expected to be rounded up.

The former Virginia attorney general said Matthew Albence, deputy director of ICE, is leading the way as the agency "prepares to perform their mission." Cuccinelli pushed back against claims the number of those being targeted by ICE has increased from "thousands" to "millions," but rather that the pool of people here illegal is "enormous."

Despite Trump's demand, several top immigration officials have acknowledged that "millions" of deportations is nearly logistically impossible for the agency to carry out with its current resources or manpower. In 2018, ICE removed around 250,000 people, the highest number of people deported during Trump's administration.

Deportations were highest under former President Barack Obama, whose administration oversaw the removal of around 410,000 undocumented immigrants in 2012.

Trump installed Cucinelli as DHS' latest immigration head in May, his USCIS division works alongside acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan to manage decisions related to asylum, asylum-seekers and those seeking U.S. citizenship.

Last month, acting ICE director Mark Morgan said the agency wants to uphold the values of "humanity, compassion and dignity" and he hoped the mass roundup of migrants in the U.S. illegally would send a "powerful message" of deterrence to Central Americans considering the dangerous passage north.

Neither Morgan nor Cuccinelli have offered exact timelines for the deportations and have said those targeted for detainment and deportation is being decided internally.

ken cuccinelli ice deportations begin
Top Trump immigration official Ken Cuccinelli said ICE is set to execute a plan to find, detain and ultimately deport at least one million migrants. CBS News | Face the Nation/Screenshot