Almost all undocumented immigrants are “fair game” for arrest and deportation, Congressman Joaquin Castro told reporters after meeting with the government's top immigration enforcement official.
Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Thomas Homan met with 10 Democratic representatives Thursday on Capitol Hill.
Afterward, Castro, a Democrat from Texas, said it was hard to leave the meeting and believe “the Trump administration is not going to target as many immigrants as possible.”
Castro said the only exception was Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients — immigrants who came to the United States at a young age and have been protected under a program established by former President Barack Obama.
“The only hesitation they seem to have was whether they would go after DACA recipients. … Aside from that, everybody else is fair game for them,” Castro said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas Homan speaks to the press in Washington, Jan. 31, 2017.
Trump calls for broader enforcement
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in his first week in office that set the stage for broader immigration enforcement.
“Many aliens who illegally enter the United States and those who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of their visas present a significant threat to national security and public safety,” the order says.
Members of Congress from Thursday's meeting said out of the 686 undocumented immigrants arrested during last week's round-up, 120 did not have criminal records.
Ten Democrats allowed at meeting
ICE said during “targeted” enforcement operations officers frequently encounter additional suspects who may be in violation of federal immigration laws. “Those persons will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and, when appropriate, arrested by ICE,” the agency said.
“They said that we can, and should, expect many more arrests and removals this year,” Rep. Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat, said.
The group of 10 Democrats said they were allowed to attend the meeting with ICE's acting director, but several others were asked to leave.