A small number of coordinated federal raids targeting undocumented migrant parents and their children took place over the weekend, the beginning of the Trump administration’s plan to swiftly enforce deportation orders against some 2,000 recently arrived migrants who are not eligible to remain in the country.
Only a handful of arrests appeared to take place, and they were reported in just a few cities. That was much different than the nationwide show of force that had originally been planned, in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were expected to fan out in unison on Sunday morning across immigrant communities in major cities. But the authorities said that more arrests would follow through the week.
The plans for the operation were changed at the last minute because of news reports that had tipped off immigrant communities about what to expect, according to several current and former Department of Homeland Security officials. Instead of a large simultaneous sweep, the authorities created a secondary plan for a smaller and more diffuse scale of apprehensions to roll out over roughly a week. Individual ICE field offices were given the discretion to decide when to begin, one official said.
The first reports of ICE activity came in on Friday and Saturday. In Chicago, a mother was a apprehended with her daughters, but the family was immediately released under supervision according to a person familiar with the operation. ICE agents approached at least one other home in the area, but the woman inside refused to answer the door, according to local news reports.
In New York, agents attempted two arrests on Saturday in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, and a third in East Harlem, according to the New York Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs.
A teenager who lives with her parents in Passaic, N.J., said she was awakened at about 1 a.m. Sunday by a knock on the door from people she believed to be ICE agents. Having seen numerous “know your rights” posts on Instagram, she knew not to open it.
“They said, ‘We need to talk to you, can you come outside, can you open the door?’ I said, ‘Do you have permission to come inside my house, do you have a paper?’” she recounted. “They said, ‘We’re not trying to come inside your house, we just want to speak with you.’ And I said, ‘No I’m not coming outside.”
After some persistence, she said, the door-knockers left. But at 5 a.m., more arrived, now surrounding the house with flashlights and banging on the door and window. Liza ran upstairs to be with her parents, and they hid with the lights off. She said she was “too scared to look outside,” and was unable to see any uniforms the people may have been wearing. Eventually they left again.
Though millions of people live in the United States without documentation and are periodically targeted for deportation, the latest raids are aimed primarily at families from Central America who have been arriving in large numbers since fall. With President Trump repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to slow the ongoing surge, the raids aim to deport parents and children who are not eligible to stay in the country — some within months after their arrival — as a way to deter others from coming.