(CNSNews.com) - Following a meeting Thursday
with Tom Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, House Democrat leaders told a news conference they’re concerned that all illegal immigrants are at risk for deportation under President Donald Trump.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said that under President Trump’s executive order on immigration, she believes that “the universe of people who are priority for removal is greatly expanded. And in fact, I believe that all would be at risk.”
Sanchez, the vice chair of the House Democrat Caucus, said the meeting participants were told “that we can and should expect many more arrests and removals this year. So it's clear that the broadening of the executive order is meant to give more discretion and greater ability for removals and apprehensions.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro, (D-Texas), told the news conference, “It was hard to not leave that meeting and believe that the Trump administration is going to target as many immigrants as possible.
“The only hesitation they seem to have was whether they would go after DACA recipients. There have been a few cases in the news where it's clear that they have picked up a few DACA folks. They have claimed that those individuals had some other offense attached to them. So they weren't just DACA recipients. They had done something else.
“Aside from that, everybody else is fair game for them,” Castro added.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, ICE said: “Reports of ICE checkpoints and sweeps or ‘roundups’ are false, dangerous and irresponsible. These reports create mass panic and put communities and law enforcement personnel in unnecessary danger. Any groups falsely reporting such activities are doing a disservice to those they claim to support.”
The Homeland Security Department announced earlier this week that ICE officers in the Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio and New York recently arrested more than 680 individuals “who pose a threat to public safety, border security or the integrity of our nation’s immigration system.
Those targeted include convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as “individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.”
Of those arrested in the past few weeks, DHS said approximately 75 percent were criminal aliens, convicted of crimes including homicide, aggravated sexual abuse, sexual assault of a minor, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, indecent liberties with a minor, drug trafficking, battery, assault, DUI and weapons charges.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Democrats agree: “Somebody who has committed a serious crime and is here without authorization, nobody on this stage believes that they ought not to be removed as a priority. That was consistent with the Obama policy.
“We understand the present policy now is essentially to extend the exposure to all people. But I will tell you, we had a discussion because there are 176 non-criminals on the list (of 680-plus). Which is -- it's 110 and 62 or 64 others. We're not sure exactly what that distinction is. But there were 176 listed as noncriminal on that list.
Hoyer said immigration officials told the meeting that people enrolled in President Obama’s DACA (deferred action for childhood arrivals) “were not targeted.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) objected to the “enormous” resources that would be required to “apprehend and make judgments about these people.”
“You have to ask yourself as a country, of course we want everyone who is a danger to our community to be dealt with, deported if they -- if they do -- if that's the case.
“But it doesn't mean that we instill fear into our country, that we allocate enormous resources instead of spending our time energy or passing comprehensive immigration reform which would solve a great deal of this. Because for over 8 million of these people, even 11 million in many cases, in most cases it's just a visa, it's just a status violation.”
At his news conference on Thursday, President Trump said “DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, it's one of the most difficult subjects I have, because you have these incredible kids -- in many cases, not in all cases."
And some of the cases…they're gang members and they're drug dealers, too. But you have some absolutely, incredible kids, I would say mostly. They were brought here in such a way -- it's a very -- it's a very, very tough subject.
We're going to deal with DACA with heart. I have to deal with a lot of politicians, don't forget, and I have to convince them that what I'm saying is -- is right. And I appreciate your understanding on that.
But the DACA situation is a very, very -- it's a very difficult thing for me because you know, I love these kids, I love kids, I have kids and grandkids. And I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do and you know, the law is rough.
I'm not talking about new laws, I'm talking the existing law, is very rough, it's very, very rough. As far as the new order, the new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision.
But we can tailor the order to that decision and get just about everything, in some ways, more. But we're tailoring it now to the decision, we have some of the best lawyers in the country working on it.