President Barack Obama has some explaining to do to immigrant advocates — many of whom have accused him of being the “deporter-in-chief” — as his administration is set to renew efforts to deport Central American moms and kids in the next few weeks.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will conduct a 30-day “surge” of immigration raids beginning in May, as Reuters first reported. The raids will target “single adults” and Central American mothers and children who arrived in the country after January 1, 2014 and have since “evaded their deportation orders or not shown up for court hearings,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Many of those Central Americans are likely fleeing gang violence in their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. A Salvadoran dies every 60 minutes because of the growing violence there. Immigration lawyers point out that these people are simply seeking asylum within the United States’ borders, even if U.S. officials don’t recognize that fact.
The impending raids are similar to the large-scale immigration raids that the administration conducted at the beginning of this year, which terrorized immigrant communities across the country. Advocates are condemning the move, calling for the administration to provide legal services to mothers and children instead.
This tactic of keeping immigrant communities in constant fear of deportation is immoral and unjust.
“In January, when 121 individuals were detained in different parts of the country, our communities lived in terror,” Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said in a statement. “This tactic of keeping immigrant communities in constant fear of deportation is immoral and unjust. It does nothing to resolve the broader issues of our broken immigration system.”
A government source indicated that ICE agents were advised to stay away from “sensitive locations” like churches, schools, and hospitals, ABC News reported.
But so far, those guidelines have not been closely followed this year. As ThinkProgress previously reported, ICE agents have lured an undocumented immigrant out of a church, and have taken Central American teenagers into custody while they’re on their way to and from school.
In light of this, advocates are concerned that immigrants may soon be too afraid to leave their homes. During January’s large-scale immigration raids, even immigrants outside North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia — the three states that ICE targeted for its operations — found themselves taking different routes to work or avoiding dropping their kids off at school.
“A new wave of raids will lead to even more unnecessary panic in immigrant communities — fear so potent that some immigrant families are afraid to leave their homes or send their children to school,” Eunice Cho, staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), said in a statement. “These potentially unconstitutional raids have done nothing to make our communities safer, and have instead undermined trust in law enforcement.”
http://thinkprogress.org/immigration/2016/01/14/3738349/wheaton-latino-owned-businesses/ Some Democratic lawmakers are critical of the Obama administration for moving ahead with deportation raids. In a joint statement, Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) called the impending deportations “cruel” against people who are undergoing “a crisis of uncontrolled violence” that are forcing them from their countries. “If the news is accurate it is a very bad sign that the Obama administration has not listened to us after months of urging them to adopt a refugee approach with other Western Hemisphere nations,” the lawmakers said. “To conduct these types of enforcement actions against women and children who have fled violence and who will face violence if they are returned, it is not just hypocritical — it is plain cruel.”
“Rounding up and detaining refugees will undoubtedly lead to the re-victimization of refugee families fleeing gang warfare and drug violence,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) added in a separate statement. “They deserve due process and a fair day in court with access to appropriate language services as needed. We should help these refugees by offering them government provided attorneys rather than returning them to peril or even death.”
Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have also weighed in on the news, saying that there needs to be more legal remedies to help people fleeing violence.
This Is What A Deportation Raid Is LikeImmigration by CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Agents first rang the doorbell at Rene’s house at 4:30 a.m. No one…thinkprogress.org“We must also fix our asylum and refugee systems, and work with regional partners to strengthen conditions in Central America,” Clinton said. “We need a comprehensive plan to stop the root causes of the violence in Central America and expand orderly resettlement programs. Large scale raids are not productive and do not reflect who we are as a country.”
“I recently met a young Salvadoran woman who came to the United States on her own at the age of 15 to flee gangs trying to recruit her,” Sanders said. “I’ve also spoken with many children who have told me with tears streaming down their faces that they live in daily fear that their parents will be taken away. I urge President Obama to use his executive authority to protect families by extending Temporary Protective Status for those who fled from Central America.”
It’s possible that ICE officials are renewing the raids because border agents have begun to see an uptick in the number of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the southern U.S. border this year. As Reuters reported, “From October 2015 through March 2016, the U.S. Border Patrol apprehended more than 32,000 family ‘units’, defined as mothers and children traveling together, for crossing illegally into the United States. Over the same period in 2014–2015, there were about 14,000 such apprehensions; in 2013–2014, about 19,800.”
Coincidentally, disclosure of the raids came around the same time that DHS released a mission statement emphasizing its agency’s “values” to “preserve and promote this Nation’s immigrant heritage and humanitarian spirit.”