San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

U.S. authorities begin raids, taking 121 Central American immigrants into custody over weekend

The families taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were living in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, Johnson said in a statement. They are being held temporarily in federal detention centers before being deported to Central America.

“As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration,” Johnson said. “If you come here illegally, we will send you back, consistent with our laws and values.”

The raids were the first in a broad operation by the Obama administration that is targeting for deportation hundreds of families that have crossed the southern border illegally since the start of last year. The operation, first reported by The Washington Post, is the first large-scale effort to deport families fleeing violence in Central America, authorities said.

Homeland Security officials declined Monday to say how many children were among those apprehended, where they were found and their countries of origin. The operation is targeting only people, including children, who have already been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge, officials familiar with the raids have said.

Asked about the removal operations, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that the administration has “prioritized the cases of recent arrivals, individuals who recently crossed the border without proper documentation. That is the nature of the operations carried out in the last several days.”

Earnest said the efforts are “consistent with the priorities the president himself talked about, deporting felons, not families, with a focus on individuals who only recently crossed the border.”

He added that those targeted for removal have gone through due-process legal proceedings and said that the effort will help discourage Central American families from sending their children on dangerous journeys to try to enter the United States illegally.

“People should take from this the understanding that the administration is quite serious when it comes to enforcing immigration laws,” Earnest said.

Because of the sensitivity of taking children into custody and deporting them and their families, authorities took precautions during the raids, using female agents when possible to apprehend families and having medical personnel on hand, Johnson’s statement said.

ICE also was lenient in a number of cases “for health or other personal reasons,” Johnson said. The agency usually exercises discretion on a case-by-case basis, considering a family’s individual circumstance, length of time in this country and ties to the community, Homeland Security officials said.

More than 100,000 families with both adults and children from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have made the journey across the southwest border since last year, in addition to a related surge in unaccompanied children. People familiar with the raids said before Christmas that authorities expected to apprehend a fraction of these migrants in the raids, which are scheduled to continue in coming weeks.

Johnson said the raids follow a crackdown on illegal immigration that started in summer 2014 and has resulted in about 14 flights a week carrying those who have been apprehended back to Central America. But most of those deported were single adults, not children who started flocking across the southern border by themselves in 2014.

Most public attention has focused on the unaccompanied children, whose numbers have risen in recent months. But the number of children arriving with at least one family member — known as “family units” in DHS parlance — also increased dramatically in the past year. Illegal immigration has been a major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, with Republican candidates calling for stricter border patrols.

Immigrants’ advocates expressed concern before Christmas about the raids, citing what they called flaws and abuses in the government’s treatment and legal processing of the families, many of whom are fleeing danger or persecution in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Groups that have called for stricter immigration limits have said the raids are long overdue, although they remain skeptical about whether the scale will be large enough to deter illegal immigration from Central America.

© 2016, The Washington Post

Log in to comment

A. J. Hardey

Invaders? Yeah they are invading the United States because life in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala is so awesome. How come the immigrants, actually refugees fleeing violence, mostly come from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala? Because the US fucked those countries up so badly fighting the “commies” that they have never have never been able to recover.

Read the news in the regions where the “invaders” come from. Read up a little on how 8 year old children are being slaughtered because their Uncle is a police officer, or they walked on the wrong footpath, or how about an 8 month old who gets shot in the head at point-blank range because mommie refused to join the local gang. Invaders huh? You obviously haven’t a clue – try walking 3 city blocks in San Salvador after dark – ya pussy!

The recent surge across the border has almost no refugees from Cost Rica, Nicaragua, or Belize…hmmmm why is that? Hint – The US had little involvement chasing “commies” from those countries. The only exception being Nicaragua where the Sandinista kicked the US backed Contras ass.

Invaders? Are the Cubans piled up in Central America invaders? Are they are being pulled into the States by a very outdated policy originally meant to embarrass Cuba, or are they being pushed away by a country moving toward free enterprise? When 10,000 to 40,000 Cubans enter the States illegally in January 2016 they get legal residence, no questions asked. How about that! A policy that attracts and rewards “invaders”, oh, right, they came from Cuba so its all good, they are simply coming to the States so they can vote in an election.

So a mother and her children, fleeing violence, are invaders and not refugees? Why don’t we ask why the States refuses to extradite several dozen El Salvadoran war criminals from their cushy poolside lairs in Miami? Generals José Guillermo García and Carlos Vides Casanova entered the States with illegal passports. They get to stay in the States and even though there are international arrest warrants issued so they can answer for war crimes committed whilst using US taxpayer money to kill innocent women and children. Spain would like it very much if the States would hand over these “invaders” so they can stand trial. Same goes for the 18 soldiers who executed the Jesuit priests…..”invaders” who somehow have been allowed to overstay their visas for decades.

Well I hope you feel safer once the DHS rounds up all those “invading” families and sends them back home to their assured death. We need to keep them out so the war criminals have room for a bigger pools. The real question is who is going to clean the rooms at the Trump Plaza once all the “invaders” are rounded up and sent back to paradise?

1 0
J-p A Maldonado

Let’s stop the euphemisms, OK? An “immigrant” is someone who has received a visa to enter our country. All others are INVADERS. Clear enough?

0 0
Ken Morris

No, a refugee seeking asylum kind of by definition doesn’t have a visa. They have to “invade” first, this is just how the process works.

However, in the cases of those being deported, they have had their “day in court” and lost their claim to refugee status.

I strongly suspect that the burden of proving that an immigrant merits refugee status is too darn difficult. Courts tend to ask for things like police reports from the home country documenting an asylum seeker’s claim that they are at risk of death if they are returned, but these kinds of police reports rarely exist because the refugees couldn’t go to their local corrupt police lest they be killed then and there by the gangs. Proving that a person is deserving of of asylum is really difficult.

Even so, what choice does the Obama administration have? Not much of one. Once an immigration judge has ruled against an asylum petition, the immigrants do have to be deported. Gotta have the rule of law or nothing’s left to sail the ship.

So this is a sad situation, and not an us v. them. These immigrants did the right thing, and most probably deserve asylum (plus would be benefits to the US), but just lost their impossible-to-prove cases. It’s not pretty, since the US will be sending some back to their deaths.

Of course, Plan B is for the US simply to arbitrarily define any immigrant from a given country as a refugee. This is how the Cubans have long gotten in, and how they still get in. During the 1980s Iranians and Nicaraguans got in the same way. Central Americans just aren’t privileged in this same way. They have to prove it on a case by case basis, not easy, and many lose.

0 0