As a report surfaced that immigration officials are planning to carry out mass deportation raids potentially starting next month, many immigrant advocacy groups and allies are scrambling to thwart the actions before they go into effect. Meetings and the planning of protests have begun in the hopes of forcing the Obama administration to abandon the plan entirely. News of the raids, first reported by the Washington Post, shocked the immigrant community just as families were gathering to celebrate Christmas Eve. Many undocumented immigrants have been shocked to learn that the central targets for the proposed deportation raids are families and children, many of whom fled violent conditions in Central America.
The situation began with a surge of unaccompanied minor children and families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since the beginning of 2014 which essentially maxed out Federal resources, with most of the immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Advocates argue that the vast majority of those migrants have legitimate claims to seek asylum in the U.S. However many of these individuals either failed to meet the legal standard or didn’t show up to their hearing before an immigration judge, and often lacked proper legal representation. Critics argue that the raids will prey on the most vulnerable of all undocumented immigrants and that the system does not afford asylum-seekers adequate due process rights.
The potential raids have not been formalized by the Department of Homeland Security, thus giving immigrant advocacy groups a limited window to try and protest and lobby against such actions. The decision by the Obama administration in some ways seems contradictory to its recent stance defending Asylum seeking refugees from Syria. One issue appears to be that the administration has been blocked by federal courts from expanding its family detention practices and thus has been left with limited tools and resources to deal with the recent influx of Central American refugees, and thus is aiming for the raids to serve as a deterrent to future families seeking to make the dangerous journey north to the USA.
Some things to consider in order to be prepared for a potential ICE Raid:
- Always have at least 2 close friends or relatives phone numbers memorized in case you need to call them if you are detained by ICE
- If you have children, have an emergency plan in place for their care should you be detained
- Do not willingly open the door if ICE comes to your home and don’t admit you know of anyone that they say they are looking for
- ICE is not allowed in your home without a warrant; And if they do present a warrant it needs to be signed by a Judge
- Always remain silent and remember you have the right to an attorney
- Don’t give ICE agents any information about yourself or others and remember never to sign anything without consulting an attorney first
- Try to Document the Raid as best as you can; Photos and Detailed Notes with names of the officers and their ID numbers, and how the events unfolded; The more details the better;
- You can fight your case
- You can report the incident online at http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/intake/