Four families picked up in New Year’s weekend immigration arrests and who were being readied for removal from the country now have their deportations on temporary hold. George Tzamaras, a spokesman for American Immigration Lawyers Association, said Wednesday the families’ attorneys put forward a defense that the immigrants had not received all their due process, that mistakes were made in their legal proceedings and that they had ineffective counsel. The four families included twelve people in total, all of whom had been taken to Dilley, Texas detention center to be deported when they got good news in the form of a temporary stay from the Board of Immigration Appeals.
The arrests have drawn opposition from Latinos and immigration groups. “Raiding people’s homes to forcibly break families apart is not what our country stands for,” Rep. Linda Sanchez, chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement. “Our federal government should not be separating parents from their children.” The California Democrat said Congress must ensure the families are advised of their rights and provided counsel and that comprehensive immigration reform is the only way to solve the problem of increased illegal immigration.
The Department of Homeland Security targeted migrant families, many of them women and children who had arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014 when the U.S. saw a spike in migrants from Central America and Mexico. Many were detained after their arrival but the federal government was forced by a court to release them, an order that the Obama administration is appealing. Some “trends” the lawyers have encountered with eight families that were arrested in the immigration operation and detained again in Dilley. Among their findings:
_ Many mothers did not understand the legal process or know they could appeal a negative ruling from a judge. One mother, a victim of “extreme” domestic violence, never got the chance to present her claim for asylum to an immigration judge.
– None of the families saw a warrant before Immigration and Customs Enforcement entered their home.
– ICE refused to let some women meet with their lawyers to discuss their cases.