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Following reports by Reuters yesterday that the Obama Administration is planning a new round of immigration raids targeting young mothers and unaccompanied children from Central America, a number of leading Democrats have added their voices to the growing chorus in strong opposition to the enforcement actions.
In a statement yesterday, Senator Menendez (D-NJ) denounced the reported raids and called for the Administration to address the root causes of what has become a hemispheric refugee crisis. Sen. Menendez’s statement is excerpted below:
“As I’ve said before, trying to send a message of deterrence by forcefully removing desperate individuals who may very well have a valid protection claim is not only ill-advised, it is disturbing and un-American. The Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have the highest murder rates in the world, and we must recognize that this is a humanitarian crisis being caused by those who believe it is better to run for their lives and risk dying, than stay and die for sure.
“Instead of eagerly deporting vulnerable populations, we should be addressing the root causes of this urgent hemispheric crisis by providing alternative safe havens in the region, expanding refugee resettlement programs, and forging new partnerships that will create security, peace and safety for families in their native countries. Now is simply not the time to turn a blind eye to the desperate reality facing these mothers and children, and the Administration’s cruel insistence on addressing this crisis strictly through the lens of border security and immigration enforcement will continue to fail and contradicts their commitment to remove felons and not families.”
Leading House Democrats, Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL), released a joint statement on the issue, noting the need for the Administration to address the violence in the region rather than directing enforcement actions against desperate women and children. The statement follows below:
“We believe deportation targets should be felons, not families. We have inquired both with the White House and the Department of Homeland Security to get more information on the news reports about a new set of raids targeting mothers and children. If the news is accurate it is a very bad sign that the Obama Administration has not listened to us after months of urging them to adopt a refugee approach with other Western Hemisphere nations. To conduct these types of enforcement actions against women and children who have fled violence and who will face violence if they are returned, it is not just hypocritical—it is plain cruel.
“Our neighbors in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are in a crisis of uncontrolled violence. Women and children from these countries are coming to our Southwest border in search of refuge. Essentially, no one is coming from Nicaragua, Belize and other countries in the region. This shows that it is push factors – the violence in the Northern Triangle – and not the pull factors from the U.S. that are leading to the increased levels of migration.
“The people targeted for raids and deportation are most likely to be the ones who never had access to a lawyer or legitimate due-process for their asylum claims. If the raids conducted earlier this year exposed anything at all, it was that our immigration system is incredibly flawed when it comes to asylum. House Democrats are united in strong opposition to these raids with almost all of us (146) signing a letter calling for the Administration to end ICE raids this past January.”
The Democratic presidential nominees were also quick to condemn the administration’s approach. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton noted that these types of raids, “don’t reflect who we are as a country” and that “we should not be taking kids and families from their homes in the middle of the night.” Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign also released a statement saying that the Senator continues to oppose “the painful and inhumane business of locking up and deporting families who have fled horrendous violence” and urges “President Obama to use his executive authority to protect families by extending Temporary Protective Status for those who fled from Central America.”
Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice added, “Leading Democrats are united with the immigrant community in opposing this development. The Administration stands alone in its decision to continue home raids against immigrant mothers and children. After seven years in office, you’d think the Obama Administration would realize that home raids are a cruel and discredited tactic that does not win them any new supporters, doesn’t work as a policy, and only serves to terrorize our communities.”