Immigration Raids 2016: Hillary Clinton, Latino Leaders Denounce ICE Deportation Raids
The Obama administration's latest deportation raid campaign continues to fuel disappointment and anger from fellow Democrats.
On behalf of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, spokesperson Jorge Silva said the former secretary of state opposes the raids, which U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's confirmed 121 immigrants were removed from the U.S.
"Hillary Clinton believes the United States should give refuge to people fleeing persecution, and should be especially attentive to the needs of children," Silva said in a statement to Latin Post. "Families who arrive here should be guaranteed due process on their asylum petitions, including a full and fair opportunity to tell their stories.
"She believes we should not be conducting large-scale raids and roundups that sow fear and division in our communities," Silva added. "And she believes we should be investing in a longer-term comprehensive solution to the challenge of violence in Central America that causes so many people to make the treacherous journey north."
Latino congressional members, who have endorsed Clinton, have also criticized the deportation raids. On Wednesday, Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chairwoman Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., said the raids, conducted by DHS' Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, does not represent what the U.S. represents.
"Our federal government should not be separating parents from their children. As the mother of a young son, it's easy for me to imagine how traumatizing having ICE agents storm someone's home and tearing families apart can be for a young child," said Sanchez. "Invading homes is inhumane and adds to the trauma of these families fleeing violence and oppression."
Sanchez said Congress has to find a better approach to handling the latest migrants coming from Central America, and ensure they receive their due process and provided with counsel. Sanchez said the only way to solve this issue is to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., has also called on the Obama administration to stop the raids, stating it's a "cruel reminder of a discredited policy."
"Along with other Members of Congress, I am seeking answers from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson as to why this policy is needed, why it was launched to instill fear in immigrant households over the Christmas, New Year's and Three Kings holidays, and why family detention centers I have been trying to close are now filling up with new families awaiting deportation," said Gutierrez on Tuesday.
Gutierrez followed up on Wednesday during a House floor speech. The congressman said the raids have caused a panic within the immigrant community.
"We hear that children are not going to school and parents are not going to work out of fear. Not even a week into the New Year and 2016 has turned into one of fear and hiding. But let us be very clear. Deporting families will not resolve the violence and corruption that push people from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to risk assault, rape, and murder to seek refuge in the United States," said Gutierrez, adding some past deportees have been found dead since returning to their native country.
Gutierrez and fellow Latino and immigrant rights groups will gather for a news conference on Friday to further denounce and call on the Obama administration to end the raids. The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), CASA, the National Immigration Law Center, the Service Employees International Union, Church World Service and United We Dream will accompany families directly impacted by the deportations outside the White House at 9 a.m.
"We will not stand by and allow this to happen to families who came to the U.S. to escape extreme violence and poverty," said FIRM spokesperson Kica Matos in a statement. "If these families are deported -- and most of them would be women and children, they would be returned to places they fled to escape being killed, raped or tortured."