Friday, January 8, 2016

New York Times: Deportation of Central American Families 'A Shameful Round-Up of Refugees'

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge Another view from the border fence. Arizona's side in Nogales. - MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Maria Inés Taracena
  • Another view from the border fence. Arizona's side in Nogales.

More voices are joining criticism against the Obama administration's campaign to apprehend and deport hundreds of women, youth and children from Central America. This morning, the New York Times Editorial Board came out to ask, why is the federal government removing migrants who pose no threat to national security?

During the first weekend of 2016, the Department of Homeland Security began its apprehensions of hundreds of undocumented families from the region. The agency quietly announced during the holidays its plans to deport asylum-seekers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, who were denied refuge in the country, and were issued removal orders. 

Last weekend, the department says that 121 individuals were taken into custody—primarily in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. The families, made up of mothers and their children, were being temporarily held at Immigration and Customs Enforcement "family residential centers" for processing, while arrangements for deportation were made. 

Immigration officials aren't focusing on workplace raids this time around, rather they are coming to these people's homes to take them away.

Sure, the Obama administration is in its lawful right to decide who gets to stay in the U.S., but immigration rights advocates say that this is "counter to the higher mandate the White House should be abiding by. International humanitarian law actually dictates that these desperate parents and children be granted protection from the persecution and violence they have fled in their home countries," according to a post by The Nation.

The New York Times Editorial Board today called the administration's raids shameful. 
President Obama once said this about his administration's deportation priorities: "We'll keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. That means felons, not families. That means criminals, not children. It means gang members, not moms who are trying to put food on the table for their kids."

Encouraging words, a year go. But a new year has dawned upon an appalling campaign of home raids by the Department of Homeland Security to find and deport hundreds of would-be refugees back to Guatemala, Honduras and  El Salvador. The targets are those who arrived in a recent surge of people fleeing shockingly high levels of gang and drug violence, hunger and poverty and who offered themselves at the border to the mercy of the United States, but ultimately lost their case in immigration court.
The co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, sent a letter to Obama today urging him to stop the "aggressive" home raids and deportations being carried out by ICE.

Dear President Obama:

We write today to express opposition to the raids that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has carried out across the country over the weekend, resulting in the arrest and detention of 121 Central American children and mothers. Countless reports have documented how many of these women and children are fleeing extreme violence and poverty in their home countries. It is inhumane for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials to disregard these threats and cause fear and anguish for immigrant families.

As Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) we understand our nation’s need to enforce immigration laws, but we must not sacrifice the values that compel us to help those in need. According to recent reports, the Board of Immigration Appeals has delayed the
deportations of some of the families who were granted emergency stays of removal because of ineffective assistance of counsel. We are deeply concerned that families are not getting the legal assistance they deserve.

We ask that your Administration end these immigration raids immediately. This practice is immoral and does not reflect who we are as a country. We should ensure these women and children have an opportunity to present their asylum claims in court, with full access to counsel and due process protections prior to deportation.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to your assurance that immigrants fleeing extreme violence and poverty are receiving the humane treatment in our country they deserve.

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