LOS ANGELES -- President Donald Trump's warning that "millions" of migrants would be deported starting this weekend was abruptly changed Saturday when he issued a surprise tweet announcing a two-week delay to the crackdown, urging Congress to hammer out reforms on immigration policy.
"If not, Deportations start!" Trump said in a tweet.
The shifting plans for mass removals drew swift condemnation from immigration advocates in Southern California, who called the sweeps an inhumane strategy for enforcement and a dangerous scare tactic that was cleaving communities.
"I think it is so cruel what he is doing," said Angelica Salas, the executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, or CHIRLA. "It's clear that he has no sense of how this impacts real human beings." What was particularly striking, Salas argued, was the "level of dishonesty, in that he's using the fear and people as leverage for his demands on Congress."
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Salas opined that the president was getting pushback about the logistics of his announced sweeps, as well as backlash from across the political spectrum.
"Even law enforcement -- our LAPD, our sheriff -- everyone is saying this is the wrong way to do what you are doing," Salas said. "I can only use the word 'harmful.' Others say 'disgraceful.' All those adjectives really speak to his lack of thinking through about the impact this has."
For Carmen, an undocumented 17-year-old in L.A., Trump's unexpected announcement that the deportations would be temporarily delayed left her feeling more drained than relieved.
"I'm tired. I'm done. What else is he gonna tweet? Tomorrow, is he gonna say, 'Just kidding, we're starting the raids again'?" she said.
The soon-to-be college student -- whose last name was withheld because she fears becoming a target of immigration agents -- said the president's latest deportation plan finally sunk in for her Friday night, when friends began calling her expressing worry about the removals.