Thousands targeted in US immigration deportation raids

US authorities plan to start arresting immigrants eligible for deportation in 10 cities this weekend, US President Donald Trump says, adding he was not concerned about the advance notice.

Trump warned last month about the planned deportations, which were earlier reported by the New York Times.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Friday, Trump said he was not concerned that plans of the arrests have become publicly known, saying the deportations were not a secret.

"If the word gets out, it gets out," he said.

At least 2000 immigrant families are eligible for deportation and will be targeted in the raids, the Times reported, citing former and current officials.

"We'll focus on criminals as much as a we can," Trump said.

"People come into our country illegally, we're taking them out legally. Very simple. It's not something I like doing," Trump said. Referring to the violent gang MS-13, he added, "I have an obligation to do it."

Mayors of a number of cities expected to be targeted have said they will not co-operate with deportations carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Immigrant advocates have said advance word of the raids could help some of those targeted evade arrest.

The raids are expected to take place in large cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Houston and affect migrant families who have received final orders of removal from an immigration judge.

Acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli said on Wednesday there were more than a million people in the US who have removal orders against them and the initial raids are aiming at making a dent in this number.

Legal aid organisations are challenging the plans, saying thousands of families expected to be targeted have not yet had a hearing in court. In some cases migrants likely to be targeted were not notified of their court date or were unable to appear due to bureaucratic backlogs.

Reuters