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As Fear in Immigrant Community Grows, More Voices Condemn Obama Administration’s Raids

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Another day, another set of stories articulating the fear present in the immigrant community following the Obama Administration’s decision to launch home raids against Central American refugees.  Fortunately, a growing number of leaders are speaking up and condemning this horrific tactic. Read on for excerpts from key English-Language clips yesterday and today. Next week, we’ll report on the latest from Spanish-language media which is covering this situation extensively.

Raids Sow Fear in Community

Pamela Constable at the Washington Post: “Pre-Dawn Raids Leave Immigrant Communities Paralyzed with Fear”: “The raids have sown fear and confusion among Central American communities across the country, especially because the Obama administration until now has concentrated on deporting immigrants who committed crimes, and said it would not target working or settled families who had not broken other laws.  At a time when Republican presidential hopefuls talk of ridding the country of all 11 million undocumented immigrants, the crackdown by a Democratic administration has Latinos wondering whether it is safe to go to work or school — or even stay in their homes. ‘People are very confused. They hear there are raids going on but they don’t know why, and they worry they will be affected too,’ said Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights.”

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee at ThinkProgress: “This Is What A Deportation Raid Is Like”:“Agents first rang the doorbell at Rene’s house at 4:30 a.m. No one opened the door.  They pounded on the door. Again, no one stirred.  Then they flashed lights into every available window. Everyone held their breath. Finally, at 7 a.m., the agents left.  But when Rene — who requested for his last name to be withheld — eventually left the house to get breakfast items, two agents intercepted him in his car as he was driving back home. They said they were looking for a wanted man, and needed to take a look in Rene’s house to see if anyone there matched their photo. Rene initially refused, saying no one living in his home fit that description. But the agents insisted. ‘Are you aware that any non-collaboration with the police department could lead to your arrest?’ the men told him, as Rene recounted to ThinkProgress through a translator.  Rene relented.  ‘They got inside before I did,’ he said. ‘They barged in. No one [in the house] was scared because we all have some sort of work permit or lawful status in the country. When agents went in, they asked everyone to take out their identification cards. That’s when they arrested my sister Rosa and two of her children.’”

Amanda Sakuma at MSNBC.com: “Obama Administration May Have Fumbled Deportation Raids in a Big Way”: “Mayra suffered three epileptic attacks in as many days while in federal custody, and now she was to board a plane with her two young kids and return to the El Salvador home they once fled.  The route was finalized and the coordinates were set. Mayra, the U.S. government had decreed, was to catch a flight Wednesday morning to the new murder capital of the world and vow never to set foot on U.S. soil for at least another 10 years.  Then, what seemed like a miracle happened. Mayra’s family was pulled from the plane. Their deportations were put on hold…in the days since immigration agents first began the raids, the administration’s message has been undermined by a series of deportation orders that have been put on hold. Immigration officials may say they have the grounds to deport the families, but the courts say something different. The result has left the administration at risk of acting in haste and rushing to deport women and children who, in the eyes of the law, may face extreme danger if returned to their home countries.”

More and More Influential Voices Condemn the Actions

New York Times Editorial Board: “A Shameful Round-Up of Refugees”: “A president who spoke so movingly about the violent gun deaths of children here has taken on the job of sending mothers and children on one-way trips to the deadliest countries in our hemisphere. Mothers and children who pose no threat, actual or imaginable, to our security….  It’s no wonder that Donald Trump is applauding the policy, and taking credit for it.”

Presidential Candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT):  He wrote in a letter to the administration, “Raids are not the answer.  We cannot continue to employ inhumane tactics involving rounding up and deporting tens of thousands of immigrant families to address a crisis that requires compassion and humane solutions…I urge you to immediately cease these raids and not deport families back to countries where a death sentence awaits.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): “A number of us are extremely concerned. We’ve made contact with the Department of Homeland Security to have them just back off till we can find out a better way to do this…The violence in Central America has gotten so bad, that poverty has become so extreme, and a lot of the poverty is caused by the violence. And so we’ve had these people in danger, in health and safety traveling thousands of miles to get to the United States.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “We need to obey our laws. But we also want to, in obeying our laws, make sure that the process is fair to people.”

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD): “We can’t simply turn away individuals and families who are fleeing violence.” 

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL): Recapping a private meeting with House Democrats and White House officials, including Cecilia Munoz, director of the Domestic Policy Council, Rep. Gutierrez told reporters, “Look, what I said to her is, I said, ‘Think about it a moment. Donald Trump is praising your public policy on immigration. You should need no further evidence of how wrong it is.’”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA):  In recap of the same meeting, Rep. Lofgren told reporters, “I think we made the concerns clear and we’ll see,” said Lofgren, the top Democrat on the House panel overseeing immigration. “People are staying home for work out of fear … it needs to be analyzed.”

Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN): Reps. Grijalva and Ellison, Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, fired off a letter to the administration, writing, “We ask that your administration end these immigration raids immediately.  This practice is immoral and does not reflect who we are as a country.”