For the second time this year, the news that the Obama Administration is planning another round of immigration raids targeting Central American mothers and children is driving a deep sense of panic and fear within the immigrant community.
While a number of leading Democrats — including Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — have added their voices to the growing chorus in strong opposition to the Administration’s actions, the Hill reported that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi seems to have bought a line the Administration is selling: the concept that these are not “raids,” but rather acts of “discrete enforcement.” Per The Hill:
Pelosi has been a loud critic of the administration’s handling of the new arrivals, raising sharp concerns about the conditions at detention centers and the legal protections provided to the families. But concerning the arrests themselves, she says the administration is on sound footing.
“There were no raids in January. You know, people throw the term around, but in January fewer than, I think, 100 people were identified as those who should go back over the border. So they make it sound like they’re massive raids … but that’s discreet enforcement.”
For people who are targeted by ICE, this isn’t about semantics or word-smithing or spin. It’s about the very real fear of being taken away from their homes and families.
Leader Pelosi’s remarks are in disappointing contrast to the numerous leading Democrats who have both forcefully denounced the Administration’s decision, and have labeled the enforcement actions as “raids”.
In her statement, Clinton remarked that “raids are not productive and do not reflect who we are as a country.” In his statement, Sen. Robert Menendez remarked that “it is truly disheartening to read reports of a possible new round of deportation raids further targeting Central American mothers and children.” And in their joint statement, Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Zoe Lofgren, and Luis Gutiérrez remarked that “House Democrats are united in strong opposition to these raids.”
The truth of the matter is, no matter what Obama Administration officials or others choose to call it, these are in fact raids according to the undocumented mothers, young adults, and children being targeted.
Among the “fewer than 100 people” Leader Pelosi referred to in the “discrete enforcement” actions from January were high school students like Kimberly, Wildin, Pedro, and Yefri, arrested on their way to class, and at least one arrested in plain view of their parents.
News of their arrests resulted in student attendance rates at some schools to drop, including one majority-Latino school in Prince George’s County, Maryland. One Spanish-language headline plainly read “Raids,” with other media describing entire families living in fear as businesses in once-vibrant neighborhoods suffered.
Iowa-based immigration activist Monica Reyes commented that even during canvassing for last January’s Iowa caucuses, some immigrants were too afraid to open their doors to organizers out of fear they were in fact immigration agents conducting arrests.
“I can honestly say that I have not seen such fear and anxiety in immigrant communities,” remarked Rep. Gutiérrez last February about the first round of raids. “The home raids announced by the Obama Administration around Christmas have struck a nerve.”
The bottom line is that whatever apologists call them, they are very real to the immigrant community, and the Obama Administration should listen to the a chorus of leading Democratic voices and policy experts and advocates condemning the enforcement actions as morally wrong and misguided on policy — because they are.