ICE denies plan for nationwide immigration raids

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Federal officials are denying plans to conduct a series of immigration raids across the country later this month, saying upcoming operations have been “adjusted” due to hurricanes impacting Texas and Florida.

“There is currently no coordinated nationwide operation planned at this time,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a statement late Thursday.

“The priority in the affected areas should remain focused on life-saving and life-sustaining activities,” it added.

The statement came after NBC News reported Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security was planning a series of immigration raids across the country later this month targeting 8,400 undocumented immigrants.

NBC reported that a five-day operation, slated to begin Sept. 17, would be “the largest operation of its kind in the history of ICE,” according to interviews with officials and a document outlining the plan.

{mosads}”Operation Mega,” as the internal document termed it, was reportedly going to be primarily focused on capturing undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes or are involved in gang activities.

ICE indicated in its statement Thursday night that the agency had reviewed “all upcoming operations” due to Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath in Texas and Hurricane Irma set to make landfall in Florida this weekend and “adjusted accordingly.”

“While we generally do not comment on future potential law enforcement actions, operational plans are subject to change based on a variety of factors,” ICE said.

“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,” it continued. 

“For the safety and security of our communities, 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.”

ICE acting Director Thomas Homan said in July that the agency had gotten a green light to hire 10,000 new immigration agents in an effort to allocate more personnel and resources to arrest immigrants being sheltered in so-called sanctuary cities.

An official told NBC News that while the raids later this month were geared primarily at those who have committed crimes, other undocumented immigrants could be swept up as “collateral.”

The move comes after President Trump decided this week to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shielded from deportation those brought to the U.S. illegally as children who had applied for work visas. 

An official told NBC that juveniles were not a target of Operation Mega.

— This post was updated at 11:15 p.m. with ICE’s denial 

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