Trump Says He Will Delay Deportations Two Weeks to Give Congress Time to Reach Immigration Deal

President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he had decided to temporarily delay his administration's plan to round up and deport thousands of migrant families living in cities across America, in order to give Congress time to work out an immigration reform deal.

"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," tweeted Trump. "If not, Deportations start!"

Newsweek reached out to the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for a Democratic response. While her office has not yet replied directly to that request, the Speaker did tweet out her appreciation for the temporary halt to the raids.

"Mr. President, delay is welcome. Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together," wrote the congresswoman.

In a short essay released earlier Saturday, Pelosi decried the "heartless" raids and called on religious and community leaders to ask the White House to not follow through with the plan.

"It is my hope that before Sunday, leaders of the faith-based community and other organizations that respect the dignity and worth of people will call upon the President to stop this brutal action which will tear families apart and inject terror into our communities," wrote Pelosi. "Families belong together. These families are hard-working members of our communities and our country. The President's action makes no distinction between a status violation and committing a serious crime."

Regarding the two-week time window for hammering out some sort of immigration reform deal, it was unclear exactly what the president hoped a politically and ideologically divided Congress — which has yet to reach common ground on this topic — would be able to achieve by that deadline.

According to a tweet from Washington Post White House reporter Seung Min Kim, Democrats on Capitol Hill had been threatening to pull their support behind additional border security funding because of the recent news that the administration was planning roundup and deport a large number of immigrants.

It was reported Friday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had planned to begin raids in as many as 10 cities starting this weekend, targeting migrant families that had already been notified that they were to be deported but were continuing to reside in America. In total, the raids would have deported approximately 2,000 migrants — far fewer than the "millions" the president had touted.

The Associated Press, citing anonymous administration officials, reported that the decision to delay the action came after the news of the pending raids had leaked to the media, potentially putting ICE officers at risk.

Mayors and leaders of a number of cities that would have been affected by the planned ICE raids came out against this development, noting that their local law enforcement officers would not be assisting ICE in any manner.

"No Angeleno should ever have to fear being snatched from their home or separated from their loved ones," wrote L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Twitter Friday evening, "we are doing everything we can to provide immigrant families with info and support ahead of the announced ICE deportation sweeps."

The mayor also stated that "Los Angeles will always stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters, and our law enforcement officers will never participate in these actions."

Up the coast, San Francisco Mayor London Breed also said her city and police force would not cooperate with any ICE raids. "It is unconscionable that the Federal administration is targeting innocent immigrant families with secret raids," declared Breed in a statement released Friday. "Here in San Francisco, we will always demonstrate our values of diversity and inclusiveness by being a sanctuary city that stands up for all our residents and neighbors."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her city would not only not make its resources available to help ICE, but that it had taken "concrete steps" to support local immigrant communities. That included blocking ICE access to the city police department's databases.

"Chicago will always be a welcoming city and a champion for the rights of our immigrant and refugee communities, and I encourage any resident in need of legal aid to contact the National Immigrant Justice Center," said Lightfoot.

The president had continued to push back against criticism of the ICE raids as recently as Saturday morning, when he tweeted that "The people that Ice [sic] will apprehend have already been ordered to be deported. This means that they have run from the law and run from the courts. These are people that are supposed to go back to their home country. They broke the law by coming into the country, & now by staying."

Then, as he departed the White House for Camp David — mere hours before reversing course on the plan — Trump told reporters, the raids would involve "groups of very, very good law enforcement people going by the law, going by our court system taking people out who came in illegally and out legally."

ICE agent
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's special agent preparing to arrest alleged immigrants at Fresh Mark, Salem, June 19, 2018. ICE acting Director Mark Morgan has vowed to ramp up immigration enforcement in the U.S. Smith Collection/Gado