Washington, D.C. — Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson recently confirmed the initiation of a national enforcement operation focused on Central American families with children. Tom Jawetz, Vice President of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, released this statement:
We have grave concerns regarding the recent nationwide raids targeting Central American mothers and children. Such raids spread trauma and fear throughout communities and cause collateral damage to public safety. And while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is targeting families and children who have final orders of removal, there remain serious questions about whether such people received adequate due process, such as legal representation in immigration proceedings and accurate and sufficient notice regarding scheduled court hearings.
It is time for the United States of America to recognize clearly and consistently that while we cannot take our eyes off of the refugee crisis unfolding in Europe and the surrounding countries, we also cannot afford to ignore the refugee crisis developing in our own hemisphere. Mothers and children from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—countries that top world rankings for homicide and femicide rates—are fleeing because of the extreme level of violence and human insecurity they face on a regular basis. The U.N. refugee agency reports that a large percentage of these people appear to have valid claims for protection and trained U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asylum officers continue to find that a large majority possess a credible or reasonable fear of persecution.
Given all of these concerns, the administration should halt these widespread raids and ensure that appropriate procedural safeguards are implemented. We can stem the flow of these families and children not by discouraging them from seeking safety through increased deportations and home raids, but instead by addressing the root causes and providing a well-implemented legal process for the identification and protection of refugees.
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