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President Donald Trump said Saturday that he would delay planned raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport undocumented immigrants in order to give Republican and Democratic lawmakers time to 'work out a solution.'
Trump said he delayed the raids at the request of Democrats. The president said he wanted lawmakers to fix what he described as "asylum and loophole problems" at the southern border.
But Trump said deportations would begin in two weeks if a solution is not found.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., issued a statement calling on the president to halt the raids, planned to start on Sunday. She also called on religious organizations to press Trump on the issue.
"Yesterday, the President spoke about the importance of avoiding the collateral damage of 150 lives in Iran," Pelosi said. "I would hope he would apply that same value to avoiding the collateral damage to tens of thousands of children who are frightened by his actions."
She said the action "makes no distinction between a status violation and committing a serious crime."
The raids were planned to take place across several cities and could have targeted up to 2,000 immigrants facing deportation orders, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News on Friday.
Trump said earlier on Saturday that his administration was focused on getting the gang MS-13 out of the United States.
The president has made cracking down on illegal immigration a central focus of his administration. He declared a national emergency at the border in February after he was unable to secure funding for a border wall from Congress.
He also threatened to impose tariffs against Mexico if it did not do more to stop migrants from transiting the country to reach the U.S. southern border.
Trump later backed off the tariff threat after reaching a deal with Mexico.