ORLANDO – US President Donald Trump has formally launched his re-election campaign, after threatening to unleash a wave of mass deportations next week.
He tweeted that authorities will start “removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States”.
The Republican president made his case for a second term before thousands of supporters at a rally in Florida.
Early polls place Mr Trump behind some potential Democratic challengers.
“Going to be wild – See you later!” tweeted the president earlier on Tuesday, hours before he took to the stage in Orlando.
What did Trump say about deportations?
Mr Trump tweeted on Monday night that undocumented migrants in the US would be “removed as fast as they come in”.
US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) typically does not announce raids, and the agency’s officials told US media they had been unaware the president would tweet about the plans.
Earlier this month, acting ICE Director Mark Morgan said authorities would target migrants who have received final orders of deportation, including families.
In his Monday night tweets, Mr Trump also contrasted Mexico’s “strong immigration laws” – the product of a new agreement to avert US tariffs – with US Democratic border policies.
As a part of the deal, Mexico is deploying 6,000 National Guard personnel to its borders to crack down on Central American migration.
A senior Mexican official told the Associated Press news agency the number of migrants arriving at the US border had already dropped from 4,200 to 2,600 per day.
What’s happening in Florida?
Thousands of supporters gathered in front of the venue for the president’s rally.
Some camped outside the Amway Center arena in Orlando since early Monday morning.
CBS News reports many of the voters in the queue listed the economy and immigration among their top concerns – issues Mr Trump is sure to address throughout his campaign.
Protesters also attended – and after a successful GoFundMe campaign, the Baby Trump balloon that took to the skies above London during the president’s recent UK visit will also put in an appearance.
Florida is a key battleground state and one that Mr Trump won narrowly in 2016.
What is happening in the polls?
According to Gallup, Mr Trump’s approval rating has never been over 46% – and as of last month, it dipped to 40%.
His most favourable polling from Rasmussen puts him at 48% approval.
And when compared to his Democratic challengers, a poll from the president’s favourite outlet, Fox News, placed him behind Mr Biden by 10 percentage points and Bernie Sanders by nine.
Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris also lead Mr Trump, albeit by a smaller margin.
The president’s aides have pointed out he was also written off in opinion surveys back in 2016.
The Trump reportedly campaign fired several of its hired pollsters after leaks showed the president losing to Democrats next year in several key battleground states.
But Mr Trump has maintained his polls “show us leading in all 17 Swing States”. -BBC