In an especially rough year for undocumented immigrants, the next two months will be an even more trying time as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gears up for what is being called this year’s largest deportation sweep under President Barack Obama’s administration.
In the first week of January, as people came down from holiday bliss, those who crossed the border for the American Dream lived in fear. News broke in late December that ICE planned to raid the homes of adults and children who judges served with orders of removal. And in that first weekend, 121 of them – mostly Central Americans fleeing gang violence and living in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina – were taken into custody after a weekend sweep.
Based on an internal document and sources, Reuters learned that this time around, a month-long series of raids in May and June may result in the repatriation of hundreds of Central American mothers and children who have been told to leave the United States. This includes people who entered the U.S. as minors but have turned 18 since.
An ICE spokeswoman said she couldn’t “confirm or deny the existence of specific ongoing or future law enforcement actions,” but she did say that those who immigrated to the U.S. after January 1, 2014 are priorities for removal.
In response to the planned raids, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders once again spoke out against the deportations. For her part, Clinton said mass raids keep families living in fear. “I am concerned about recent news reports, and believe we should not be taking kids and families from their homes in the middle of the night,” Clinton said, according to CNN. “Large scale raids are not productive and do not reflect who we are as a country.”
Her comments are a complete 180 from what she said in 2014 when she called for the deportation of children and families when a wave of Central Americans headed to the United States to escape violence. In January of this year, she officially condemned these raids.
Sanders said “the painful and inhumane business of locking up and deporting families who have fled horrendous violence in Central America and other countries. I urge President Obama to use his executive authority to protect families by extending Temporary Protective Status for those who fled from Central America.”
While neither is in a position to do something at the moment, there are a few things all undocumented immigrants should know to protect themselves.
Disclaimer: This list is not legal advice; reach out to a lawyer for help with your immigration case.