Planned immigration raids in Los Angeles and nine other U.S. cities Sunday were called off because authorities worried that leaked information about the action would have endangered agents, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Monday one report placed the blame for that leak on the head of the Department of Homeland Security.
The operation would have targeted migrant families who had received deportation orders — reportedly about 140 in the Los Angeles area and 2,000 nationwide, but it was called off hours before its scheduled start.
“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!” President Donald Trump tweeted at around noon Saturday.
On Monday, Fox News, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter, reported Monday that Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan opposed the operation from the start, and leaked the information.
“He is the one that wanted to make sure this operation did not go forward,” the source said. “He has been fighting this operation since its inception.”
That report comes two days after former acting ICE chief Tom Homan accused the DHS leader of working against the ICE operation, also on Fox News. “You’ve got the acting secretary of Homeland Security resisting what ICE is trying to do,” Homan said, noting that a Washington Post story “gave the location of the cities, the day this was supposed to start, how many targets…”
Neither McAleenan nor representatives for the DHS responded to Fox News’ request for comments on the allegations against McAleenan.
“Any leak telegraphing sensitive law enforcement operations is egregious and puts our officers’ safety in danger,” ICE spokeswoman Carol Danko said Saturday. “ICE officers are true American heroes and the President’s postponement protects officers and provides an opportunity for Congress to swiftly work together in a bipartisan fashion to end the incentives for child smuggling and ensure all illegal aliens can be promptly returned upon apprehension at the southern border.
“Illegal aliens continue gaming the system by smuggling children to gain access to our country,” Danko continued. “After violating our laws, they further disrespect our country by refusing to show up for their hearings in court — so they are not even present when a judge orders them to be removed.
“No American citizen can get away with breaking the law or violating a court order — and neither should illegal aliens. If Congress does not change the laws to ensure illegal aliens can be promptly removed at the southern border, there is no alternative but to continuously arrest these fugitive aliens in the interior.”
Officials with the Los Angeles Police Department had said that the department “is aware of upcoming Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions beginning this Sunday, directed toward individuals who have been issued final deportation orders. These enforcement actions will include individuals residing in the Los Angeles region. The department is not participating or assisting in any of these enforcement actions.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed his opposition to the raids.
“Los Angeles will always stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters, and our law enforcement officers will never participate in these actions,” Garcetti said Friday. “No Angeleno should ever have to fear being snatched from their home or separated from their loved ones — and we are doing everything we can to provide immigrant families with the information and support they need.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the proposed raids “cruel, misdirected and are creating unnecessary fear and anxiety.”
Immigration service providers reported that some communities were increasingly worried about the possible actions.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook with immigrants calling and asking what their families can do in case a member is arrested by immigration authorities,” said coalition member Alicia Flores, executive director of the Hank Lacayo Youth and Family Center in Panorama City.
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights planned to begin a week-long series of demonstrations Sunday morning outside the Metropolitan Detention Center on Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles.