SIREN in the New: Trump postpones immigration raids, calls for quick bipartisan solution

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conduct an enforcement operation at an Atlanta home in 2017.  Photo: Bryan Cox / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 2017

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conduct an enforcement operation at an Atlanta home in 2017.

Photo: Bryan Cox / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 2017

SF Chronicle // Lauren Hernández and Gwendolyn Wu June 22, 2019 Updated: June 22, 2019 8:23 p.m.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conduct an enforcement operation at an Atlanta home in 2017.Photo: Bryan Cox / U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 2017

President Trump has delayed the nationwide raids scheduled to detain roughly 2,000 recently arrived immigrant families living in the country illegally.

Trump announced Saturday afternoon on Twitter that “At the request of Democrats,” he has decided to delay the mass deportation order for two weeks to give both Republicans and Democrats an opportunity to come to a bipartisan “solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border.”

“If not, Deportations start!” he warned.

The decision was announced just a day before U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement planned to begin picking up immigrant familiesliving in major cities across the country, including San Francisco.

A source familiar with the decision said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco called the president Friday night and asked him to call off the raids.

Pelosi called the pause “welcome.”

“Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform,” Pelosi said on Twitter. “Families belong together.”

On Wednesday, acting ICE Director Mark Morgan said agents would pick up families who have received final removal orders from immigration courts.

Out of the nearly 11,000 cases where deportation orders were issued because the family did not appear in court, 232 were in the San Francisco court, according to the Executive Office for Immigration Review. More than 95% of the families ordered to that court showed up for their hearings.

“Yet again Trump is playing a cruel game with the lives of children and families to play politics,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “As long as his administration continues to threaten our immigrant community, Oakland will continue to prepare — we know our rights and values.”

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo also slammed the president, saying in a tweet, “We’ll achieve the comprehensive immigration reform that our nation critically needs when we elect a President more interested in solutions than scare tactics.”

Trump’s decision to delay the mass deportations was a “confirmation that this administration’s strategy is to terrorize” immigrant communities, said Hamid Yazdan Panah, advocacy director for the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice.

“I think it has a real and tangible human cost, and unfortunately that cost is first and foremost the communities that are affected, as well as those who support those communities,” he said.

Yazdan Panah said he doesn’t believe either the White House or Congress will be able to come to a “humanitarian or humane, sensible solution” in the two-week time frame provided to lawmakers.

Maricela Gutiérrez, executive director of immigrant rights organization Siren, said she sees Trump’s last-minute decision as a form of posturing, coming as it does just days after he officially announced his 2020 re-election campaign.

“It’s day to day for ICE, it’s nothing new. They’ve been targeting people with deportation orders,” Gutiérrez said. “It’s just posturing from the president. He’s trying to flex his muscles since he relaunched his campaign ... and he’s trying to perpetuate that good-immigrant/bad-immigrant dichotomy.”