WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump singled out Chicago as a high-crime sanctuary city defying ICE on Saturday, hours before he changed his tune on a nationwide series of deportation raids that he says will now be pushed back two weeks as Republicans negotiate the issue with Democrats.
Speaking to reporters in the morning on the south lawn of the White House before departing for Camp David, Trump was asked about the upcoming raids in some 10 cities, including Chicago.
“These are people that came into the country illegally,” he said outside the White House. “They’ve been served. They’ve gone through a process and process of the courts and they have to be removed from the country. They will be removed from the country. It’s having a very big effect on the border and the fact that we’re taking them out. The people that came into the country illegally are going to be removed from the country. “
A few hours later, though, Trump tweeted that the raids would be delayed 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.”
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2019
A source told the Sun-Times that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi phoned Trump Friday night. During the conversation, which lasted about 12 minutes, Pelosi asked him to call off the raids.
If Pelosi’s call influenced Trump’s position, it’s not clear why he said on Saturday morning the raids were on only to reverse himself later.
Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., the only Hispanic in the Illinois delegation, was in Chicago on Saturday working with local officials and immigration groups that were bracing for the raids.
“With this administration you can never let your guard down,” Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., told the Sun-Times after Trump’s surprise announcement.
Immigration activists in Chicago jumped into action after news reports broke that on Sunday, agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement — known as ICE — would be rounding up 2,000 families who ignored deportation orders in Chicago and some nine other cities.
The impending mass arrests were first reported Friday in the Washington Post.
ICE spokeswoman Carol Danko deplored the leaks about the raids, saying in a statement, “Any leak telegraphing sensitive law enforcement operations is egregious and puts our officers’ safety in danger.”
Garcia had joined Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Hispanic members of the City Council and Illinois General Assembly on Saturday afternoon at a press conference in Little Village to denounce the Trump administration’s immigration policies and scorched rhetoric.
“Chicago has taken concrete steps to support our immigrant communities. I have directed — and Superintendent Johnson has confirmed — that CPD has terminated ICE’s access to CPD’s databases related to federal immigration enforcement activities,” Lightfoot said.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot calls the Trump administration's immigration policies and rhetoric "hateful" and tells the city's immigrant communities that they have support. pic.twitter.com/sKSPIerCsu— Nader Issa (@NaderDIssa) June 22, 2019
For years, Chicago has been a Trump target.
”Some cities are going to fight it,” Trump said Saturday before his reversal. “If you notice, they are generally high-crime cities. If you look at Chicago, they are fighting it and if you look at the other cities that are fighting it, many of those cities are high-crime cities and they are sanctuary cities.”
Citing Chicago on Saturday marked the first time Trump in public has focused on Chicago since Lightfoot became mayor on May 20.
The turmoil Trump is sparking on his signature anti-immigration issue caps a week where on Monday he said “millions of illegal aliens” will be removed by ICE, with the tweet coming the day before his Tuesday 2020 re-election kick-off rally in Orlando.
Trump has threatened deportations before in order to pressure Congress to fund his wall on the southern border with Mexico. Earlier in his presidency, he yanked Obama era protections to “Dreamers,” non-citizens brought to the U.S. illegally as youths.