The Department of Homeland Security has put on hold plans for a potential mass deportation of 8,400 undocumented immigrants due to the impact of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma’s expected impact on the United States over the weekend, according to NBC News.
NBC News on Thursday reported the plans for the raids, originally scheduled to begin on Sept. 17, citing “three law enforcement officials and an internal document,” which called the plan “the largest operation of its kind in the history of ICE,” or Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
However, according to a subsequent statement from ICE:
“While we generally do not comment on future potential law enforcement actions, operational plans are subject to change based on a variety of factors. Due to the current weather situation in Florida and other potentially impacted areas, along with the ongoing recovery in Texas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had already reviewed all upcoming operations and has adjusted accordingly. There is currently no coordinated nationwide operation planned at this time. The priority in the affected areas should remain focused on life-saving and life-sustaining activities.”
The statement adds, “ICE fugitive operations teams will continue to target and arrest criminal aliens and other individuals who are in violation of our nation’s immigration laws, in non-affected areas of the country, as part of routine operations.”
According to NBC News, the internal document referred to the planned raids as “Operation Mega,” which ICE has been planning since August. One of the officials shared with the outlet that undocumented immigrants suspected of gang activity or serious crimes would be the primary targets, while other undocumented immigrants could be taken as “collateral.”
The news of the potential raid comes the same week President Donald Trump ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Established in 2012, DACA protects immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the United States by undocumented parents when they were under sixteen. DACA applicants must have been living in the country since at least June of 2007 and either be enrolled in school, have a high school diploma or equivalent or be an honorably discharged veteran. They cannot have been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor or more than two other misdemeanors.
According to the White House, no current DACA recipients will be affected before March 5, and Congress has six months to decide the fates of the so-called “Dreamers” currently benefiting from DACA. Regarding the ICE raid, one of the law enforcement officials reportedly told NBC News that young people would not be targets in Operation Mega.