WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. immigration authorities plan to launch on Sunday a sweeping effort to deport recently arrived families who are in the United States illegally, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing three unnamed U.S. officials.
The operation is expected to target up to 2,000 families facing deportation orders in as many as 10 U.S. cities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles, according to the Post.
A spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to comment, saying: “Due to law-enforcement sensitivities and the safety and security of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel, the agency will not offer specific details related to enforcement operations before the conclusion of those actions.”
In a call with reporters earlier this week, Mark Morgan, the acting director of ICE, told reporters the agency would target for deportation families that have received a removal order from a U.S. immigration court.
Morgan said ICE wanted to deport families who had recently arrived illegally in the United States to discourage more Central Americans from arriving.
The number of migrants apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexico border surged in May to the highest level since 2006, many of them families fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Separately, the governor of Texas said the state was deploying 1,000 National Guard troops to the border after he said more than 45,000 people were apprehended illegally crossing in the past three weeks.
Reporting by Tim Ahmann and Kristina Cooke; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O’Brien