Immigration News Today: ICE Preparing Massive Deportations Campaign
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency will conduct a new deportation campaign that will affect Central American families who fled violence in their native land.
ICE, an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will reportedly deport hundreds of families who entered the U.S. since early 2014. The deportation campaign will target adults and children who have been specific ordered for deportation by an immigration judge.
According to the Washington Post, the immigrant adults and children will be detained and immediately deported.
"It is outrageous that the [Obama] Administration plans to conduct raids on families who have fled persecution and violence," said Women's Refugee Commission's Migrant Rights and Justice Program Director Michelle Brané, in a statement emailed to Latin Post. "Instead of focusing on deporting families, the Administration should finally recognize what this influx is about: refugees seeking protection at our border who, instead of being locked up, should be given a real chance to find a lawyer, understand how the process works, and make their case for asylum before a judge."
"Many never receive the basic information they need to know about what to do next, and receive little or no support in navigating an overwhelming process. Women and children fleeing violence should be granted protection, not deported in mass raids," added Brané.
Based on the DHS 2015 fiscal year statistics, more than 462,000 people were removed or returned to their native country. Within ICE, 235,413 individuals were removed or returned during the 2015 fiscal year. The aforementioned ICE figure includes nearly 166,000 individuals who were apprehended while or "shortly after" attempting to illegally enter the U.S.
The DHS, however, has been prioritizing its "limited resources" to focus on the most serious threats to national and border security and public safety, as outlined by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson following President Barack Obama's Nov. 20, 2014, immigration executive actions.
The DHS also indicated that there would have been further detention or deportations if select jurisdictions complied with federal orders. DHS is referring to "sanctuary cities," which are jurisdictions that limit or decline cooperation with ICE on immigrant detainee requests.
"When law enforcement agencies decline to transfer custody of removable convicted criminals and public safety threats to ICE, the agency must expend additional resources to locate and arrest these individuals at-large," the DHS wrote in its 2015 fiscal statistics report.
"[Fiscal year (FY)] 2015 was a year of transition, during which our new policies focusing on public safety were being implemented. In FY 2016 and beyond, I want to focus even more interior enforcement resources on removing convicted criminals," said Johnson in a statement. "To that end, we are renewing and rebuilding ICE's ties with state and local law enforcement. A year ago, we ended the controversial Secure Communities Program, and replaced it with the Priority Enforcement Program. Of the 25 largest jurisdictions that had placed restrictions on their own cooperation with ICE, 16 are now working with us again for the good of public safety."
The DHS is aware that many immigrant families are entering the U.S. following fears of "credible or reasonable fear of persecution." DHS said the U.S. border requires greater resources.
As of Thursday morning, two presidential candidate from the two major political parties acknowledged ICE's deportation plan.
.@DHSgov holiday plans for raids to round up/deport Central American refugees fleeing death are wrong. We are a better nation than this.
— Martin O'Malley (@MartinOMalley) December 24, 2015
Fellow Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he was "very disturbed" with the reports about the deportation raids.
"As we spend time with our families this holiday season, we who are parents should ask ourselves what we would do if our children faced the danger and violence these children do? How far would we go to protect them? Our nation has always been a beacon of hope, a refuge for the oppressed," said Sanders in a statement. "We cannot turn our backs on that essential element of who we are as a nation. We need to take steps to protect children and families seeking refuge here, not cast them out."
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UPDATED: 12 p.m. EST: Inclusion of Bernie Sanders' statement.