Federal Plan for Nationwide Sweep of Undocumented Immigrants

Hundreds of families could face deportation as officials say they pose a threat to national security.
2:04 | 12/25/15

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Transcript for Federal Plan for Nationwide Sweep of Undocumented Immigrants
Now to a developing story that could affect moneys hundreds of families here in the U.S. The department of homeland security is finalizing plans to deport central American immigrants living here illegally since 2014. Is the government really ready to conduct raids to round up thousands of people? ABC's senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas on the case. Reporter: They came over the southern border by the thousands. Children and families, in some cases, fleeing violence and persecution in central America. Many bussed beyond the border. Inside the U.S. Some facing angry crowds while the government determined their fate. Now, with illegal border crossing spiking again, hundreds of those families are being targeted for deportation in a series of sweeps that could begin as early as next month, if approved by the white house. I think what they're trying to do here is send a message to central America, saying, don't come. And in order to do that, I think they believe that images of families being offloaded on planes in central America, that it's going to deter people from coming. Reporter: The families targeted for deportation had their requests for asylum rejected by immigration judges. But the removal is sparking controversy, because the Obama administration has typically focused on deporting criminals, not families. Very tough day, frankly, for this news to break, on Christmas eve. Reporter: Some administration critics said the plan is symbolic window dressing that will do nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigration. And others, including democratic presidential candidates call the plan draconian. Martin O'Malley tweeted today, a Christmas refugee roundup sounds like something Donald Trump would concoct. And Hillary Clinton's campaign released a statement, saying she has real concerns about these reports. And Pierre Thomas is live with us from Washington. Pierre, how would authorities actually go about executing this plan? Reporter: Tom, in many cases, these families have to be tracked down. But immigration and customs enforcement agents are confident they can be located. They say it's simply too difficult for families to hide. But we'll have to see what happens. Opposition to this plan is already fierce. Tom? No doubt a delicate situation. All right, Pierre, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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