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Statement on Administration’s Plans to Round up Central American Families for Deportation

Released on Thu, Dec 24, 2015

Washington D.C. - Late last night, The Washington Post broke the news that the Obama Administration is considering plans to begin fugitive-operation round-ups of Central American families who remain in the U.S. after an immigration judge has ordered them removed. For the past few years, refugee families and children have fled escalating violence and persecution in Central America and sought protection in the United States. Yet, our government has responded with harsh enforcement measures that often fail to provide each family a fair opportunity to seek asylum. Far too often, refugee families are either detained in private prisons or apprehended and then released from immigration custody without adequate information about how to pursue their asylum cases and when and where to go for their court hearings. Most have no legal representation—the single most important factor in ensuring their appearance in court and succeeding in their cases. 

Following is a statement from Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council:

“News that the Obama Administration is considering a plan to round up Central American families and deport them proves, once again, that this Administration fails to understand these individuals are refugees seeking asylum and should be given humanitarian protection rather than punishment. We must stop treating these families as though they are criminals. It is not a crime to arrive at our borders and request protection, and the overwhelming evidence indicates that these families have legitimate claims under U.S. law. 

“Many of the families who have been ordered removed received in absentia orders, meaning that they did not appear for their hearings and thus have not had an opportunity to present their claims for protection. Sadly, most have been set up to fail: we know that they are provided little to no meaningful information about their rights and responsibilities to present their claims for asylum and other forms of relief. The government’s failure to set up a workable and fair system for processing migrants fleeing persecution has been well-documented. Rather than help these individuals, the Obama Administration seems prepared to round up and deport them instead. 

“Given the President’s commitment to extending refugee protections to Syrians, it is inexplicable that he is ignoring the humanitarian crisis in his own backyard.”

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For media inquiries, contact Wendy Feliz at 202-812-2499 or wfeliz@immcouncil.org

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