The Department of Homeland Security was reportedly set to conduct "the largest operation of its kind in the history of" the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with nationwide raids targeting nearly 8,500 illegal aliens.
But shortly after NBC News reported the plans late Thursday, "the agency issued a statement saying it had cancelled nationwide enforcement actions due to Hurricane Irma and the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey," NBC reported.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) responded, saying there was "currently" no such plan:
"While we generally do not comment on future potential law enforcement actions, operational plans are subject to change based on a variety of factors," ICE spokesman Sarah Rodriguez said in a statement. "Due to the current weather situation in Florida and other potentially impacted areas, along with the ongoing recovery in Texas, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 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."
Prior to the initial NBC News report, another spokeswoman for ICE, Jennifer Elzea, had said the agency was "not able to speculate about potential future targeted enforcement actions."
The raids were scheduled over five days beginning Sept. 17, and were called "Operation Mega," according to the document, a memo circulated agency-wide in August.
It is not unusual for ICE operations to target immigrants by the hundreds or even low thousands. The higher-than-usual target number may have been partially driven by an effort to reach a deportation goal by the end of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, one of the officials said.
The move came a day after President Trump tweeted out a notice to so-called DREAMers regarding rumors that they would be deported over the next six months:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had asked Trump to reassure dreamers.