US President Donald Trump confirmed Friday that his government will begin mass raids in ten cities across the country on Sunday to deport "thousands" of undocumented immigrants, and said he plans to visit a detention center for immigrants at some point.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump responded affirmatively when asked if it is true that the Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) will begin its raids this Sunday, as several media outlets reported Thursday.
"It's a huge operation, if it's leaked that it's going to start, nothing happens, it starts on Sunday, and we're going to get thousands of undocumented people out of here," Trump said before embarking on a trip to Wisconsin and Ohio.
"I have an obligation to do it (...) If they enter illegally, they go away," he said.
Asked if it would not be better to prioritize the deportation of immigrants with criminal records instead of focusing on families subject to deportation orders, which according to press reports are the main objective of these raids, Trump was ambiguous.
"We always focus all we can on criminals before doing anything else, we are deporting members of MS13 from thousands to thousands," he argued.
"We specifically seek out criminals, but it can not be that people enter our country without going through a process (...) If people enter our country illegally, we expel them legally, it's very simple," he added.
According to officials consulted by The New York Times, ICE will first seek out some 2,000 immigrants who have already received deportation orders and who, in some cases, did not show up for hearings in immigration courts.
The operation will focus on the cities of New York, Miami (Florida), Houston (Texas), Los Angeles and San Francisco (California), Chicago (Illinois), Atlanta (Georgia), New Orleans (Louisiana), Baltimore (Maryland) and Denver (Colorado), according to official sources cited by the CNN television network.
Trump already threatened three weeks ago to launch the same operation, but stopped it a day before its start to give an "opportunity" to the Democrats to negotiate with him a change in the asylum system in the country.
In the absence of dialogue with the Democrats on that issue, too complex to negotiate in two weeks, the president announced that the raids would begin shortly after the July 4 holiday.
Trump once again described as "false" press reports describing unhealthy conditions in immigrant detention centers on the border, even though analysts from his government have confirmed overcrowding problems in those facilities.
He recalled that Vice President Mike Pence will visit a detention center for immigrants in McAllen, Texas, and when asked if he plans to do the same at some point, he replied: "Yes, I will go."
"But I've seen (what happens there), and (Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria) Ocasio (-Cortez) say they are drinking from toilets, that has been invented," he said.
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