Case Highlights Disconnect Between Administration’s Stated Values And What Is Happening On the Ground
Earlier this year we learned that the Obama administration had started to target recently arrived Central American refugees—including young people who fled violence in their home countries—for deportation. 19 year old Kimberly Pineda Chavez’s case is one of several recent cases concerning Central American teenagers. Kimberly is a 10th grade student living in the Atlanta area who came the U.S. with her younger sister after gangs in Honduras threatened to sexually assault the girls and their stepfather was kidnapped by corrupt police. Kimberly and her sister came to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors, but due to improper legal counsel were not granted relief.
On January 27th, Kimberly was arrested on her way to school and has been detained for more than 5 weeks, with deportation imminent. If Kimberly is deported, she will be separated from her sister and sent back to a country where her life is in danger. As the American Immigration Lawyers Association recently noted about the case, “No one should be deported before their protection claims can be heard. The vulnerabilities and dangers are particularly acute in the case of children. These raids are a symptom of a much larger problem. The Administration must fully acknowledge that individuals and families fleeing Central America deserve humanitarian protection rather than punishment. And it must stop using aggressive enforcement tactics that spread fear throughout our communities.”
Added Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “These are the facts: Kimberly was arrested by ICE on her way to school. She’s been in detention— immigration jail—for five weeks. She fled gang and state-sanctioned violence back home. She didn’t get due process here. When is our government going to recognize that this is a refugee situation, and respond with humanitarianism and care? How many young people will be deported back to gangs and death until then? The way our government is treating young people who fled gangs and violence is simply unconscionable. What on earth are we thinking?”