Amidst the increasing number of immigrants trying to cross the U.S. and Mexico border from the south, the Obama administration recently launched a campaign to crack down on undocumented Central American immigrants who have managed to evade deportation. This comes after the government’s announcement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was working on plans to detain migrants from Central America, many of whom are women and children.
According to immigrant activists and lawyers, the operation was first noticed in Texas and Georgia. Representatives from both border states’ immigration and customs department declined to offer a statement, saying only that the Homeland Security agency does not discuss current operations with the media.
As of press time, there has been no word yet as to how many immigrants had been detained.
Families That Will Be Affected
If the raids spread across the U.S., they would mark the first time the government has undertaken an operation of this magnitude, specifically targeted towards Central American migrants.
Michelle Mendez, an attorney with the immigrant rights group, Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., expects the raids to escalate at the national level, affecting immigrant families across the country. The DHS, however, has stated that families entering the United States unlawfully are not exempt from the immigration laws individual immigrants have to observe.
A DHS official said that the repatriation of migrants issued with orders for removal, including minors and families, to their home countries is part of a larger government effort to solve the issue of a rising number of immigrants arriving at the country’s southern border.
According to Atlanta-based immigration lawyer, Charles Kuck, the ICE had taken an immigrant family (a mother and three children) in Georgia under the pretense of finding a ‘criminal.’ Officials had asked to enter the family’s house to check if he was there. Kuck said that they don’t where the family was taken.
Immigrations advocates and lawyers believe that the Central American immigrants most likely to be targeted are those that missed court dates to evade their deportation because they did not have an attorney. Lawyer rights are not granted to individuals who entered the country through unlawful means.
In protest of the campaign, over 150 national and local civil rights groups, as well as religious, women’s, and children’s groups had sent a letter to President Obama, asking that the raids be stopped.
The last time a large-scale operation of this kind targeting a specific segment of the population, occurred more than 10 years ago, when former President George W. Bush announced an immigrant crackdown the led to high-profile raids of meatpacking plants and other work facilities to detain undocumented workers.
The number of individuals and families trying to cross U.S. borders had spiked due to severe gang violence in El Salvador and Honduras, a problem compounded further by drought.
If you or anyone you know is facing unlawful detainment for being immigrants at the hands of government officials, call the immigration lawyers of Lyttle Law Firm right away. Learn more about your rights by visiting our website or calling our office at 512-215-5225.