Yesterday US president Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce that raids by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on undocumented immigrants—planned for this weekend in cities around the nation—will be delayed for two weeks. In what has become a typical tactic for the president, he threatened that the deportations will happen in two weeks if Democrats don’t agree “to work out Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.”
Trump reportedly agreed to hold off on the mass deportation action after a phone call with Democratic speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi late on June 21. This change of heart, which no doubt comes as a relief to many, is reminiscent of the president’s recent threats to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports unless the neighboring government immediately committed to taking action on immigration at the nations’ shared border. Trump touted the move in early June as a success but critics said that his deal with Mexicans was just bluster and actually yielded no meaningful new agreements.
Yesterday’s move was quickly criticized. “This was another bait and switch,” New York mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters at the South Carolina Democratic Party convention. “He creates a crisis, and then he says, ‘Oh, let’s solve this crisis! Make a deal with me!’…But the painful, cruel joke was that a lot of people felt a lot of fear over it.”
Indeed, reports of ICE readying for the raids sparked panic across the nation. Publications like the Miami Herald reported on the agency’s preparations to sweep through cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and New Orleans. Cities, immigration nonprofits, and private attorneys immediately responded by circulating information on social media about the targets’ legal rights and offering support and advice.
Some local leaders sought to reassure residents that law enforcement would not assist federal agents. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on June 21 that she terminated ICE agents’ access to Chicago’s gang database in advance of the raids. She also said that she spoke to local ICE agents to register her strong objection to the planned actions and said that Chicago police will not cooperate with the federal agency or facilitate their work.
Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms likewise expressed her opposition to the raids. She told CNN, “This cruel policy is not the solution to a broken immigration system. Only good faith bipartisan efforts will fix the system and ensure our country lives up to its own highest values and ideals.”
This morning, Trump tweeted about the delayed deportations again, expressing a somewhat similar sentiment to the one articulated by Atlanta’s mayor. However, the president was pessimistic about the likelihood of reaching an agreement, putting the onus on Democrats to do so, while recalling his alleged earlier successes with Mexico, writing, “I want to give the Democrats every last chance to quickly negotiate simple changes to Asylum and Loopholes. This will fix the Southern Border, together with the help that Mexico is now giving us. Probably won’t happen, but worth a try. Two weeks and big Deportation begins!”