Trump says mass deportation roundups starting ‘fairly soon’

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Asylum seekers wait to request an appointment with US migration authorities as a Federal policeman walks by, outside El Chaparral port of entry, in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on July 2, 2019. (AFP / Guillermo Arias)
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A baby Cuban asylum seeker is seen in a makeshift migrant camp near the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, on June 29, 2019. (REUTERS/Loren Elliott)
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Customs and Border Protection agents survey cars entering the US, on the Puerta Mexico international bridge in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, Mexico, on June 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Updated 06 July 2019

Trump says mass deportation roundups starting ‘fairly soon’

  • On Monday, Trump said the roundups would take place after the July 4 holiday
  • An increasing number of migrants are coming from countries outside Central America, including India, Cuba and Africa

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said on Friday mass deportation roundups would begin “fairly soon” as US migrant advocates vowed their communities would be “ready” when immigration officers come.
Trump, who has made a hard-line immigration stance a key issue of his presidency and his 2020 re-election bid, postponed the operation last month after the planned date was leaked to the press, but on Monday he said the roundups would take place after the July 4 holiday.
“They’ll be starting fairly soon, but I don’t call them raids, we’re removing people, all of these people who have come in over the years illegally,” he told reporters at the White House on Friday.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month said raids would target undocumented migrants who had recently arrived in the United States so as to discourage a surge of Central American families at the southwest border.
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s statement.
ICE operations are expected to involve “collateral arrests” in which undocumented migrants not directly targeted by officers are picked up in raids.
Government documents published this week by migrant rights groups showed some past ICE raids had more collateral arrests than apprehensions of targeted migrants. Migrant rights groups say this general, looming threat to undocumented migrants is harmful to communities and the US economy, as it forces adults to miss work and children to skip school out of fear they may be picked up and separated.
“We have to be ready, not just when Trump announces it, because there are arrests every day and they have been increasing,” said Elsa Lopez, an organizer for New Mexico immigrant and workers’ rights group Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
Migrant apprehensions on the southwest border hit a 13-year high in May but eased in June as Mexico increased immigration enforcement.
An increasing number of migrants are coming from countries outside Central America, including India, Cuba and Africa. The Del Rio, Texas, Border Patrol sector on Friday reported the arrest of over 1,000 Haitians since June 10.
Democratic lawmakers visited an El Paso, Texas, Border Patrol station on Monday and said migrants were being held in atrocious conditions, with women told to drink out of a toilet.
To “dispel” what he called “the misinformation,” Chief Border Patrol Agent Roy Villareal put out a video showing fresh water available from a cooler and a faucet in a cell at a Tucson, Arizona, sector migrant processing center.
“We’re not forcing aliens to drink out of the toilet,” said Villareal, head of an area that in May apprehended nearly six times fewer people than the El Paso sector, a stretch of border that has borne the brunt of the migrant surge.


Kabul expects US to share peace deal details

Updated 25 August 2019

Kabul expects US to share peace deal details

  • Afghan government excluded from all rounds of talks
  • Washington is keen for the deal to be signed before Sept. 1

KABUL: Afghanistan said on Saturday it expects the US to share details of a peace deal with the Taliban before it is signed, having been excluded from all rounds of talks.

US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has led diplomats through at least nine rounds of talks with members of the armed group in Qatar since last summer.

A deal could pave the way for a complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and end almost two decades of fighting in the country.

But President Ashraf Ghani’s government has been left out of the talks because of objections from the Taliban, which views his regime as a puppet of the West.

The current round of discussions has been described as crucial because, according to present and former Taliban officials, both parties are expected to soon sign a deal.

“The Afghan government expects that it (agreement) will be shared before it is finalized for signing,” Ghani’s chief spokesman, Sediq Seddiqi, told Arab News.

He said Kabul could not say when the deal would be signed, and that troops’ departure would be condition-based and not based on a timeline set by the Taliban.

“Well, force reduction will be based on conditions, the terrorist threat is potential and we must fight it together for our common safety and in order to prevent any major terrorist attacks on the world’s capitals. 

“We must deny terrorists from holding free ground in Afghanistan and turning it into a safe haven. The presence of some forces, and continued and meaningful support to the Afghan security and defense forces, will be key to our success.”

The Taliban wants all foreign troops to leave Afghanistan within a set timetable and, in return, the group says it will not allow Afghan soil to be used against any foreign country or US interests.

Afghan and US officials have warned against a total pullout of troops because, they argue, the Taliban will try to regain power by force and the country will slide back into chaos after troops leave.

But some say a continued presence will prolong the conflict, as neighboring powers oppose the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan and see it as a trigger for extremism.

The Taliban could not be reached immediately for comment about media reports, which cited the group’s former and current officials as saying that a deal with Washington was imminent.

“We have an agreement on a timeframe for the withdrawal,” Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s spokesman for the Qatar talks, told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper. “Discussions are now focused on its implementation mechanism. We have had general discussions today,” he added, referring to current discussions in Doha. “Tomorrow, we shall have discussions on the implementation part.”

Another Taliban spokesman said the top US military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, had taken part in the current talks which, according to some observers, showed the importance of the discussions and the possibility of a final deal.

Washington is keen for the deal to be signed before Sept. 1, weeks ahead of a crucial and controversial presidential poll in Afghanistan. 

Ghani, who is standing for re-election, says the polls are his priority. Some politicians believe that peace will have to come first and that the vote will have to be delayed.

Abdul Satar Saadat, who served as an adviser to Ghani, said the Taliban and US were racing against time as any delay would damage trust between the two and prompt the Taliban to fight for another five years.

“Because of this both sides are doing their utmost to sign the deal, delay the polls and begin an intra-Afghan dialogue like Oslo,” he told Arab News.