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DHS Preparing “Series of Raids” Targeting Refugees Who Fled Violence in Central America

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Washington, DC—On Christmas Eve, we learned of an extremely disturbing development – an appalling plan from the Obama Administration’s Department of Homeland Security that would deport whole Central American families—including young mothers and their children—to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, places where rape, sexual abuse and murder are commonplace.

Most disturbingly, the plan raises the ugly specter of the very mass roundups and deportation advocated by several candidates running for the GOP presidential nomination—most notably Donald Trump.  According to the Washington Post, DHS is planning a “series of raids” targeting families that have fled extreme violence in Central America.  In fact, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have some of the highest murder rates in the world, with El Salvador recently passing Honduras for the top spot.

As we read it, the DHS plan is to deport young mothers and their children to the violent communities they fled. The consequences of deporting these vulnerable families to communities where gangs rule and the state is virtually absent are predictable.

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Talk about timing.  The day before Christmas we hear the Obama Administration is going to use raids that terrorize entire neighborhoods and communities to arrest, detain and deport young families back to some of the most murderous countries in the world.  We thought the days of immigration raids on families were over.  We thought that was a horrible tactic no longer used.  We thought people from unstable countries racked by decades of civil wars, death squads, extreme poverty, natural disasters and the rise of the gangs the rule swaths of territory would merit humanitarian protection rather than accelerated deportation.  Let us hope DHS reverses course, and quickly.

Such a roundup would be a nightmare for those families and for our claim to being a nation of refuge. But it would also be a political nightmare for the Democrats. With strong support from Democratic voters and independents, most elected Democrats have been speaking up for the protection of Syrians who have fled unspeakable violence, as they should.  Now, with the Administration on the brink of going after Central Americans who have fled unspeakable violence, Democrats need to speak up again.  We should be talking about a regional and national approach to protection and safe haven, not roundups that undermine our core values.

Last week, President Obama spoke eloquently about the role that immigrants and refugees revitalize and renew our nation, citing, among others “Central American teenagers running from gang violence.”  Now, his Administration could be creating a real nightmare for the families who fled some of the most violent nations in the world.  We urge the President in the strongest terms: don’t do it. We should open our arms, not have blood on our hands.

Immigration Attorney David Leopold added:

It’s shameful that the Obama Administration would hide behind its “enforcement priorities” to justify the round-up and deportation of fathers, mothers, children and babies to the very turmoil and violence from which they fled.  They are not enforcement priorities, they are refugees.  And they need America’s help, not its detention facilities and removal apparatus.  They fled to our borders to save their lives and the lives of their children.  Rather than plan the deportation of families in need of protection, the Department of Homeland Security ought to be developing comprehensive plans to help these refugees.  I am appalled that on Christmas Eve we are faced with a return to the dark days of roundups and deportations.

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

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