President Obama is planning a 30-day period of increased deportation raids targeting women and children who entered the country illegally. Progressives are crying foul, saying the administration is putting innocent people in dangerous situations, but officials say they must enforce the law.
The sweep will likely be the largest since January, when the administration sent 121 people, mostly women and children, back to Central America. According to Reuters, a document sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) instructs the officials to begin a 30-day “surge” of arrests that focus on women and children who have already received notice to leave the U.S.
Two sources close to the operation confirmed the document’s orders, but an ICE spokeswoman said the agency does not “confirm or deny the existence of specific ongoing or future law enforcement actions.” Likewise, the exact dates for the raids remain unknown.
ICE did say that immigrants who arrived here after January 1, 2014, are the priority for arrests.
President Obama has been dealing with an immigration crisis for most of his last term as president, and the problem shows little sign of letting up.
Reuters numbers show that from October 2015 until March 2016, there have been 32,000 “family units” entering the U.S. without proper documentation (family units are defined as a mother and child traveling together). There were 14,000 such crossings in the same period for 2014-15; 19,800 for 2013-14.
The crisis is fueled by the staggering violence in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, described by the Observer as a prominent surrogate for Hillary Clinton, called the latest Obama deportation raids “appalling.”
“A lot of these women who come here with their children actually present themselves at the border. They’re not trying to enter illegally. They’re not trying to invade. They’re fleeing a situation and putting themselves at risk of rape; of violence. Those children could be killed. So it’s a very different situation and I think that there’s no distinction being made.”
Obama’s deportation raids put politicians in a difficult position. Bernie Sanders and his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination Hillary Clinton say they’re against the plans, forcing them to turn their backs on the popular POTUS.
The raids come at a complex time in America’s struggle with immigration reform as well. GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has promised mass deportations and a giant wall to dissuade anyone from trying to make it to America.
The Obama administration’s raids also seemed geared towards discouraging Central Americans from coming to the U.S. according to the Los Angeles Times.
Obama promised in his 2008 election run that he would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a promise he broke according to PolitiFact. He did enact the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) law in 2012, granting deportation protection to certain immigrant groups, especially children brought to the U.S. as minors.
Conservatives later lambasted the DACA, saying that it helped create the current crisis on the border by giving immigrants false hope. President Barack Obama also introduced a bipartisan immigration reform bill in 2013, but it was rejected for debate in the House of Representatives. So the administration made an executive order to extend deportation relief, but those orders were blocked by federal judges and now sit in the critically under-staffed Supreme Court.
With little hope of immigration reform coming, Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron explained, “we must enforce the law.” She added that the officials will avoid sensitive locations like schools, churches, and hospitals except in cases of emergencies.
Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, explained that the raids couldn’t come at a worse time for groups already unnerved by the presidential election.
“The Obama administration and [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] could not be more unhelpful by deciding to go through with these raids.”
The latest batch of Obama deportation raids are also a reminder that asylum requests are difficult to prove, even when there’s a significant danger lurking back in a home country.
[Photo by Bryan Thomas/Getty Images]