Top official makes announcement on raids: ‘The pool of those with final removal orders is enormous’

(Image: screenshot)

A top Trump administration official revealed that ICE has pending deportation orders to remove about one million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, indicated that despite previous reports that “thousands” could face deportation under President Trump’s directive last month, the full “pool” of those eligible for removal is “enormous.”

(Video: CBS)

“They’re ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find and detain and then deport the approximately one million people who have final removal orders,” Cuccinelli said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

He clarified that although there are approximately one million illegal immigrants with final orders of deportation, they may not all face removal in the upcoming round up.

“They’ve been all the way through the due process and have final removal orders. Who among those will be targeted for this particular effort … is really just information kept within ICE at this point,” he said.

“The pool of those with final removal orders is enormous,” he added.

Immigration authorities were set to begin deporting illegal immigrants with pending removal orders last month but Trump delayed the move after news of the impending raids was leaked, announcing the extra tine to allow discussion with Democrats.

Cuccinelli noted the incongruity of discussing the ICE operations as if they were something out of the ordinary and not what the agency is tasked to do as part of its job description.

“It’s important to note, here we are talking about ICE doing its job as if it’s special. And really this should be going on on a rolling basis for ICE,” he said, adding that the branch of the Department of Homeland Security has “been interfered with effectively and held up by the politics of Washington to a certain extent.”

“They’re looking forward to just getting back to doing their job,” Cuccinelli said.

CBS News host Margaret Brennan noted that the Trump administration “has deported far fewer people than the Obama administration had,” prompting Cuccinelli to talk about the overcrowding at border facilities.

“ICE has been, for much of the Trump Administration, has been swamped with- they’re the second stage of the border crisis,” he explained. “We focus so much on the Border Patrol. But the reason you see overcrowding in those facilities is because they can’t be moved to the facilities where they were expected to go and those are ICE facilities because the ICE facilities themselves are over capacity.”

And while some of the issues can be addressed with regulatory changes in the agency, Cuccinelli criticized Congress of failing to act on changing asylum laws, among other things, adding that lawmakers “have not touched it” and there appears to be nothing on the calendar “to address this subject before they all go on vacation in August.”

The president pushed back last week on using the term “raids” to describe the impending actions of ICE, while he also praised the job being done by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“Well, I don’t call them ‘raids,’” he told reporters. “I say they came in illegally, and we’re bringing them out legally. These are people where we have the papers, we’ve gone through the court system. They’ll be starting fairly soon.”


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