No nationwide operation planned, Immigration and Customs Enforcement says, hours after media report on alleged raid
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) late Thursday denied a media report suggesting the agency was preparing for its largest-ever roundup of illegal immigrants.
"While we generally do not comment on future potential law enforcement actions, operational plans are subject to change based on a variety of factors," a statement published on the ICE website said.
It said the imminent threat of Hurricane Irma in Florida and other impacted areas, along with the ongoing recovery in Texas from Hurricane Harvey meant that the agency, "had already reviewed all upcoming operations and has adjusted accordingly.
"There is currently no coordinated nationwide operation planned at this time. The priority in the affected areas should remain focused on life-saving and life-sustaining activities," the statement added.
Hours earlier, the NBC News network put out a story that cited law enforcement officials and an internal document circulated last month as saying that ICE would launch a five-day raid mid-Sept. targeting as many as 8,400 illegal immigrants.
Dubbed "Operation Mega", the raid was described in the memo as "the largest operation of its kind in the history of ICE", according to the story.
Following the agency's statement, NBC News updated its report to say that the operation had been "canceled".
The news comes days after the President Donald Trump administration announced a move to scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which began under former President Barack Obama and granted legal status to people who came to the U.S. as children alongside illegal immigrants.
The move, which affects nearly 800,000 people who enrolled in the program, triggered mass protests nationwide, including New York City where dozens were arrested near Trump Tower.
A hardline stance on immigration was one of the highlights of President Trump's campaign in last year's election.
His bid for the Oval Office had its first large national exposure at a press conference that saw him offhandedly describe Mexicans as "rapists".
Trump then went on to promise a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico, which he recently said he would risk a government shutdown to accomplish.
The Republican president also pushed for a travel ban -- widely considered a 'Muslim ban' -- that blocked entry into the U.S. for people from six Muslim countries.