Starting in January, ICE May Deport Hundreds of Central American Families

Lead Photo: John Moore/Getty Images
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The number of unaccompanied children and families from Central America crossing the U.S.-Mexico border rose significantly in 2015. The Associated Press reports that even in the fall – when colder weather discourages immigrants from making the trip – the numbers were higher than last year. Now, hundreds of families who immigrated from Central America seeking asylum in 2014 may be deported at the start of 2016.

Though it’s still in the planning phase, sources told The Washington Post that Immigration and Customs Enforcement will raid the homes of adults and children who have been ordered to be removed by an immigration judge. The plan has yet to be approved by the Department of Homeland Security, but they are being pressured to make a move now that DHS has been ordered to release families from detention centers.

ICE press secretary Gillian Christensen told BuzzFeed that they will be zeroing in on a specific set of people. “These include individuals, whether alone or with family members, who have been apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, recent border crossers, and individuals who have received a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014,” she said.

Last year, when an influx of Central American families came to the U.S., some were sent to live in detention centers. Others were rejected when they tried to apply for asylum, and this is the group who ICE will reportedly be targeting.

Since the news broke before Christmas, many, including the Democratic presidential candidates, have spoken out. Director of Advocay for the American Immigration Lawyers Association Gregory Chen condemned the plan to deport people who should be seen as refugees. “It would be an outrage if the administration subjected Central American families to even more aggressive enforcement tactics,” he said. “This administration has never acknowledged the truth: that these families are refugees seeking asylum who should be given humanitarian protection rather than being detained or rounded up. When other countries are welcoming far more refugees, the U.S. should be ashamed for using jails and even contemplating large-scale deportation tactics.”