Congress

Trump delays ICE raids hoping for bipartisan plan — but doesn’t say what he’ll support

Operation to round up undocumented migrants had been scheduled to start Sunday

President Donald Trump said Saturday that a planned roundup of undocumented immigrants would be delayed, but he urged Congress to send him a bipartisan plan that would change asylum procedures. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump announced Saturday that “at the request of Democrats” a planned roundup of undocumented immigrants will be delayed.

In a tweet from Camp David, Trump said he ordered the delay for two weeks “to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the asylum and loophole problems at the southern border.”

But he warned that if the two sides cannot reach a deal — which he must bless before signing into law — “deportations start!”

Both the House and Senate are set to take up bills next week to spend at least $4 billion more to deal with the influx of migrants at the southern border, but the measures do not include changes to immigration or asylum policy.

It was unclear Friday how the House and Senate would reconcile differences between the measures, which leaders of both chambers say are needed to address humanitarian issues.

Trump’s two-week offer could be aimed at affecting those talks. But Democrats have not been moved by his threats in the past, and Congress is only scheduled to be in session Monday through Thursday before going on recess through the remainder of Trump’s deadline.

Speaker Nancy Pelsoi welcomed the delay in a tweet Saturday, but she did not mention Trump’s deadline. She also suggested that Democrats would not be willing to change asylum laws without addressing other broken parts of the immigration system.

“Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together,” the California Democrat tweeted.

In 2017, Trump — following the lead of hard-liners on his staff — helped torpedo a bipartisan Senate immigration bill. And on Saturday, he did not specify what kind of asylum overhaul measure he might support nor did he lay out a single demand.

The raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement were scheduled to begin Sunday in 10 major American cities, and had drawn sharp objections from congressional Democrats.

The tweet, posted around 3 p.m., brought the latest policy reversal — this one, potentially temporary — from a president who has kept Washington guessing with his frequent changes of heart.

Earlier Saturday, at 8:30 a.m., Trump had fired off a tweet doubling down on the planned raids.

“The people that ICE will apprehend have already been ordered to be deported,” he said. “This means that they have run from the law and run from the courts. These are people that are supposed to go back to their home country. They broke the law by coming into the country, & now by staying.”

Trump is at Camp David amid tensions with Iran after it shot down an American military drone aircraft, and he canceled a planned retaliation mission. He is meeting with aides about how to deal with the Islamic republic, and other matters.

The White House’s immigrant roundup plan drew howls from Democrats such as freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Trump’s native New York.

“Reminder this admin is CHOOSING to round up refugees seeking asylum, fighting to not give children toothpaste or soap & making people sleep on dirt floors,” she tweeted Saturday. “They say it’s bc of a lack of [money]. You know what saves money? Not putting masses of people in internment in the first place.”

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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