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Trump says launching crackdown on immigrant families

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio on July 12, 2019. (AFP photo)

US President Donald Trump has confirmed that American immigration authorities will launch raids to round up thousands of undocumented immigrants and their family members in 10 American cities for deportation.

Trump said on Friday that the nationwide crackdown on immigrants facing deportation will commence over the weekend, adding that he intended to discourage a surge of Central American migrants.

"People are coming into this country illegally, we are taking them out legally," Trump told reporters, calling it a "major operation" that would mainly focus on removing criminals.

Last month, Trump warned about the planned deportations. The operation is a step towards fulfilling a hardline immigration stance from Trump which will be a key issue in his 2020 re-election campaign.

The raids will be carried out by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents over a number of days starting on Sunday, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing unnamed government sources.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has removal orders for some one million refugees, but American authorities say they are short of manpower or facilities to arrest and deport them all.

The unnamed officials told the newspaper that ICE agents will target at least 2,000 undocumented family members who have been ordered deported but remain in the country illegally.

ICE officials said last month that operations would target recently-arrived undocumented migrants in an attempt to discourage the growing number of Central American families crossing the US-Mexico border.

Trump said on July 5 that the mass deportation roundups would begin “fairly soon.” He postponed the operation last month after the date was leaked, but last week said it would take place after July 4.

There are about 10.5 million undocumented migrants in the United States, with two-thirds being in the country for more than 10 years.

Trump has made his hard-line stance on immigration an integral part of his presidency and has promised to build a wall along the US-Mexican border to curb the flow of migrants from Mexico and Central America.

Human rights advocates and Democratic Party lawmakers who have recently visited border cities say migrants were being held in deplorable conditions, with women told to drink out of a toilet.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said Monday she is “deeply shocked” at the conditions in which the US government is keeping detained migrants and refugees, including children.

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