121 Central Americans are facing imminent deportation, after ICE rounded them up this weekend in a national enforcement action — the first of its kind to target minors. Officials apprehended women and children who had crossed the border since May 2014 and who were denied asylum, according to an ICE spokesperson.
The raids are a response to the continued increase of Central American border crossings in recent months and are intended to combat the surge and to enforce immigration law, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson explained in a press statement.
“As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration,” Johnson said. “If you come here illegally, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values.”
Johnson declared that recent border crossers who have entered the US illegally since May 2014 are an enforcement priority, along with convicted criminals and threats to public safety.
“Attempting to enter the US unlawfully as a family unit does not protect individuals from being subject to the immigration laws of this country,” said an unnamed DHS official on background. “The repatriation of individuals with final orders of removal — including families and unaccompanied minors — to their home countries is part of our broader ongoing effort to address the recent surge of families and individuals arriving at our southern border.”
The raids are designed as a deterrent to discourage more Central American border crossers, along the lines of DHS’s use of family immigrant detention. DHS instituted large-scale family detention in the summer of 2014 in reaction to the Central American influx, and initially held women and children for months as they awaited a resolution to their asylum cases. But this summer a federal judge declared that families could be held legally for only 20 days.