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Goal of Trump's ICE Raids Threat, Warn Rights Advocates, Is to 'Terrorize Immigrant Communities'

"No matter who you are or what your status is, this is the United States of America—where ALL people have rights."

Agents walk to a vehicle outside the U.S. Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, on June 26, 2019.

Agents walk to a vehicle outside the U.S. Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, on June 26, 2019. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump's war on immigrants will reportedly enter a new phase Sunday as ICE agents across the country are then expected to begin several days of raids targeting families, an announcement that was decried as "terrorism" by critics. 

"Let's call President Trump's attacks on our immigrant communities what they are: Bigoted. Anti-Immigrant. And a blatant attempt to terrorize immigrant families."
—Rep. Ben Ray Luján

"This is not a 'rule of law' operation," Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a tweet. "The goal is to terrorize immigrant communities so immigrants do not seek protection in the U.S."

The raids are expected to begin Sunday and continue for "several days," according to The New York Times, which broke the story Thursday morning.

The operation is tailored to target families but, as the Times reported, anyone in the vicinity of the operation could also be taken into custody:

The raids, which will be conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement over multiple days, will include "collateral" deportations, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the preliminary stage of the operation. In those deportations, the authorities might detain immigrants who happened to be on the scene, even though they were not targets of the raids.

The threat of collateral deportations had advocates like Colorado Democratic candidate for Senate Trish Zornio up in arms.

"POTUS's proposed raids will include 'collateral' arrests if immigrants happen to be in the vicinity," tweeted Zornio. "This is beyond morally wrong and is in direct opposition of U.S. principles."

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) took to Twitter to attack the president, calling the predicted raids "bigoted" and "anti-immigrant."

"Let's call President Trump's attacks on our immigrant communities what they are," said Luján. "Bigoted. Anti-Immigrant. And a blatant attempt to terrorize immigrant families."

It's not the first time Trump has threatened to send the government after immigrant families. On June 17, the president tweeted that his administration would begin conducting raids the "next week."

"They will be removed as fast as they come in," the president said at the time—before backing down five days later on June 22 with an ominous pledge to restart the process if Democrats in Congress did not fix the immigration issue, specifically the "asylum and loophole problems."

House Democrats passed a $4.6 billion bill for the border on June 27, legislation that exposed a growing rift between congressional leadership and the party's outspoken new members.

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Author Cari Luna took to Twitter to blast Democrats for what she saw as the party's complicity in the raids. 

"Last summer in Portland we occupied the ICE building and shut it down," said Luna. "This summer? Kids are still in cages, concentration camps are multiplying, and ICE is conducting nationwide raids."

"Time to occupy the offices of the Democratic leaders whose inaction makes them complicit," Luna added.

"Shame, shame, shame on this awful administration."
—Rep. Veronica Escobar

Even before Thursday's Times reporting, the effects of Trump's all-out assault on immigrants—from raids to conditions in detention centers—were having a deleterious effect on the country's migrant population. 

"I'm scared to go outside. I'm scared to go to all places," a woman from Guatemala named Yennifer told CBS News on Tuesday. "My biggest fear is that if they take me, what's going to happen to my husband? And if they take my kids away from me, what's going to happen to them?"

CBS also talked to Make the Road NY immigrant defense coordinator Luba Cortés, who noted the effects of announcing raids, even if they don't happen, on the communities she works with. 

"To say, 'We're going to have a raid today,' then, 'We're not going to have a raid today,' really plays with people's emotions," said Cortés.

On Thursday, immigrant rights advocates posted information for those who could be targeted by the ICE operations.

"No matter who you are or what your status is, this is the United States of America—where ALL people have rights," tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). "Know yours."

Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) delivered a short, but cutting, reply to the news of the raids to NBC News reporter Alex Moe. 

"Shame, shame, shame on this awful administration," said Escobar. 

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