LUPE, ICE officials react to president’s Twitter threat to deport families

In this April 5, 2019 photo, President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable on immigration and border security at the U.S. Border Patrol Calexico Station in Calexico, Calif. Trump said Friday he is considering sending "Illegal Immigrants" to Democratic strongholds to punish them for inaction— just hours after White House and Homeland Security officials insisted the idea was dead on arrival. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

La Union del Pueblo Entero responded Tuesday to a tweet President Trump made Monday, threatening that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents would begin “removing the millions of illegal aliens” who are in the country as soon as next week.

LUPE Executive Director Juanita Valdez-Cox called Trump’s statement a “transparent” political ploy meant to stir up his base on the heels of his re-election campaign kickoff, which is set for Tuesday in Florida.

“The immigrant community knows and has experienced his hate, but they have learned to organize and defend their families. This new tactic that he is proposing is a continuation of his plan to entice support from his base for his reelection,” Valdez-Cox said in a prepared statement.

Trump famously kicked-off his original presidential campaign four years ago at Trump Tower in New York. That’s where he made the announcement to run for president after he descended on the news conference on an escalator.

During the subsequent speech, Trump called Mexican immigrants coming to the country, criminals and rapists.

Valdez-Cox and members of LUPE recently accepted a humanitarian award for their work during the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy, which led to the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their parents.

“We know that we can come together across race and place of birth to win border and immigration proc-esses that are fair and safe, just like we won civil rights in the past. With warm meals and warm welcomes, border communities are demonstrating what it looks like to respond to humanitarian need with care, concern and love,” the statement reads in part. “LUPE continues to stand with the immigrant community, con-tinues to organize and educate on how to defend and protect our families from hateful attacks.

“Together, we can make this a place that welcomes new immigrants while ensuring that all border residents can thrive.”

In response to Trump’s tweet, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE officials said they would continue to enforce violations of immigration law.

“The border crisis doesn’t start and stop at the border, which is why ICE will continue to conduct interior enforcement without exemption for those who are in violation of federal immigration law,” an ICE statement read. “This includes routine targeted enforcement operations, criminals, individuals subject to removal orders, and worksite enforcement. This is about addressing the border crisis by upholding the rule of law and maintaining the integrity of the immigration system, as created by Congress.”

lzazueta@themonitor.com