Over the weekend, acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli said that federal authorities are gearing up to apprehend and deport around one million illegal immigrants in the near future.
Cuccinelli told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are “ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find and detain and then deport the approximately one million people who have final removal orders.”
The illegal immigrants to be deported in this upcoming operation have “been all the way through the due process and have final removal orders,” Cuccinelli explained. However, he also added that further information about upcoming deportations is being held close to the vest right now.
“Who among those will be targeted for this particular effort, or not, is really just information kept within ICE at this point,” the acting director explained to CBS’ Margaret Brennan.
Brennan pointed out that earlier reports said deportations would be in the “thousands;” Cuccinelli explained that there are a lot of illegal aliens with final removal orders to choose from because “the pool of those with final removal orders is enormous.”
That pool is indeed enormous. Numbers obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request and reported by Conservative Review in March show that the number of illegal aliens still in the country with final deportation orders was 1,009,550 a few months ago.
Cuccinelli then went on to point out how odd it is that the idea of federal law enforcement enforcing federal law is something newsworthy.
“Here we are talking about ICE doing its job as if it’s special, and really, this should be going on on a rolling basis for ICE, and they’ve been interfered with, effectively, and held up by the politics of Washington, to a certain extent, and they’re looking forward to just getting back to doing their job.”
And a majority of people want to see ICE do its job, a recent survey found. According to a monthly Harvard/Harris poll conducted in late June, 51 percent of Americans would like to see a “‘a mass roundup and deportation of illegal immigrants” if Congress fails to address the ongoing border crisis.
Both Cuccinelli’s statement and the Harris poll numbers follow on the heels of President Trump’s decision to hold off on an earlier planned deportation operation after leaks to the media sabotaged its implementation by putting federal law enforcement officers’ safety at risk. Though the source of the leak is still not known, there have been multiple administration fingers pointing at acting DHS chief Kevin McAleenan, who is a longtime Democratic donor.
Following the leaks, President Donald Trump delayed deportation operations, giving Congress the option to “work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border,” which it still hasn’t done.
The Harris poll also found that a vast 72-percent majority of Americans supported the president’s decision to give Congress more time to fix the problem.