Democratic presidential candidates knock Donald Trump on ICE raids

PHOTO: Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., greets attendees at a roundtable with health care workers during a campaign stop Thursday, July 11, 2019, in Pittsburgh.PlayKeith Srakocic/AP
WATCH Immigrant communities brace for ICE raids this weekend

The issue of planned raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents rallied a number of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to the same cause on Saturday, one day ahead of the purported actions.

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President Donald Trump has pushed for the enforcement actions against undocumented immigrants for weeks. He first tweeted about the action last month before announcing they would be postponed to a later date.

"It starts on Sunday and they're going to take people out and they're going to bring them back to their countries or they're going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison in the countries they came from," Trump said Friday at the White House.

The Sunday operation would target only undocumented immigrants with final removal orders, who will eventually be deported, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the matter.

ICE said in a statement it would not release details out of a concern for safety of its agents, but "as always, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of unlawfully present aliens who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security."

PHOTO: Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., arrives for a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday, July 13, 2019. Brian Snyder/Reuters
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., arrives for a campaign stop in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday, July 13, 2019.

Presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., came out strongly against the raids while campaigning in Exeter, New Hampshire, on Saturday.

"Let me say this one final thing because it's a weekend where we have a president using fear to go after people who are all around the country right now we have blended families," Booker said. "People are undocumented or married to an American and have children that are Americans. And we're beginning to tear families apart. Permanently damaging those children while the parent is sent away to a foreign land.

"And it's worse than that," he continued. "You have in my city [of Newark], I know police departments, local police departments, right now you have police, the police officers griping because they used to get cooperation from immigrant communities. And now people are afraid to come and report crimes."

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was the first candidate to take the stage at the NetRoots Nation progressive forum in Philadelphia on Saturday and was immediately asked about the reported enforcement action. She also criticized Trump's acceptance of children's treatment at migrant detention centers, referring to the seven children who have died, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I think it's disgusting. I think this president -- the worst thing Trump has done is literally rip apart the moral fabric of this country," Gillibrand said. "He does it every day when he's locking up children, not giving them medicine, clean clothes, clean water, appropriate food, locking up people, separating families. Under this president, seven children have died [in Customs and Border Protection custody]."

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand waves as she leaves the stage after speaking to a forum sponsored by Netroots, Saturday, July 13, 2019 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand waves as she leaves the stage after speaking to a forum sponsored by Netroots, Saturday, July 13, 2019 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

Julian Castro, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama, said he would do away with ICE entirely at the NetRoots Nation forum.

"I've said that instead of breaking up families, we should break up ICE," he said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., echoed several of her opponents in Philadelphia, saying, "No great nation tears families apart."

Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who was in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Saturday and is from the border town of El Paso, Texas, said, "We ensure that there's a safe, orderly, legal process to come work a job, join your family, or flee persecution in this country. That is America living up to its promise to us and to the rest of the world."

ABC News' Cheyenne Haslett and Lissette Rodriguez contributed to this report.