Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan told NPR he doesn't prefer to send agents into people's homes, but that the upcoming raids set to begin Sunday are necessary because the illegal immigrants being targeted have failed to comply with orders to show up at immigration hearings.
"My duty is not to look at the political optics, or the will the American people, that's for the politicians to decide," Morgan said Friday. "What the American people should want us to do as law enforcement officials is to enforce the rule of law and maintain the integrity of that system."
Though U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement sent 2,000 letters to families in the country illegally last February, most have not turned themselves in. As a result, raids are set to begin Sunday in 10 major cities across the country.
"So what are our options?" Morgan said. "They've had due process, they've had access to attorneys, they've had access to interpreters. Majority of them don't even show up. And then when they didn't show up, they received ordered removal in absentia. We have no choice."
Morgan noted that he would rather not carry out the raids because they can be dangerous for the agents, but that they are the needed response.
"I don't want to send agents to people's homes. I don't want to send people to their workplace. I don't want to send them anywhere," he said, but added, "They're here illegally and they won't work with us."
The Washington Post reported on Friday that the operation is slated to launch on Sunday and is expected to target up to 2,000 families facing deportation orders in as many as 10 U.S. cities, including Houston, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles.
Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she had terminated ICE's access to Chicago Police Department (CPD) databases related to federal immigration enforcement activities in response to the threat of raids.
"I have also personally spoken with ICE leadership in Chicago and voiced my strong objection to any such raids. Further, I reiterated that CPD will not cooperate with or facilitate any ICE enforcement actions," Lightfoot said in a statement.
The Los Angeles Police Department said in a series of tweets it would not participate or assist in the immigration enforcement actions.
Houston's Mayor Sylvester Turner noted in a statement the "rich cultural contributions" of the city's immigrants, and said: "The city does not try to do ICE's job, nor does it try to impede ICE."
Morgan said earlier this week that ICE wanted to deport families who had recently arrived illegally in the United States to discourage more Central Americans from arriving.
The number of migrants apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexico border surged in May to the highest level since 2006.
Most of the migrants are fleeing violence, poverty and corruption in Central America, and are seeking asylum, a process that can take years. Many families are released into the United States for the duration of the process because of limits on how long children can be detained.
Reuters contributed to this report.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.