(NEW YORK) — Federal authorities plan to begin a series of targeted raids to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants, ABC News has learned from a high-ranking government source not authorized to speak with the public.
The Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will target undocumented immigrants who have entered the country within the last two years, have exhausted all asylum or personal danger appeals and have been ordered deported by a judge, according to the source.
The raids, expected to begin in upcoming weeks, will not be a general roundup of undocumented immigrants but will specifically target those who crossed the U.S. border recently, the source said. A surge of immigrants from Central America who came into the U.S. in 2014 to escape violent conditions in their home country would be included in this group.
ICE agents have been reminded of guidelines that prohibit raids or enforcement actions at schools, hospitals or courtrooms, the source said.
It is unclear whether undocumented minors would be exempt from these raids. Laws have been put in place to protect undocumented minors, such as the Flores Settlement Agreement of 1997, which says children can not be detained and are to be released to a guardian in the general population, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which says any unaccompanied minor or child entering from a non-contiguous country has to be allowed inside the United States and does not qualify for immediate removal.
In March, ICE announced an initiative called “Operation Border Guardian” in which it targeted undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. on or after Jan. 1, 2014, as minors but have since turned 18. Between Jan. 23 and March 9, ICE had taken 336 individuals into custody, it said in the announcement at the time.
In a statement, ICE Spokesperson Jennifer Elzea said that the raids were a continuation of the Department of Homeland Security’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws. “Our highest priority is public safety and border security,” Elzea said. ”
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