Miriam Jordan, Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2016
The Obama administration this weekend began detaining Central Americans who have evaded deportation orders, launching a crackdown on people illegally in the country amid an increase in migrants trying to cross the southwest border.
Just before Christmas, government officials confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security was planning a clampdown on Central American migrants in January that would include women and children. The operation began in Georgia and Texas, immigration attorneys and advocates said Sunday.
Representatives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Georgia and Texas declined to comment, saying the Homeland Security agency doesn’t discuss ongoing operations. It was unclear Sunday how many people had been taken into custody.
A DHS official said Sunday that “attempting to unlawfully enter the United States as a family unit does not protect individuals from being subject to the immigration laws of this country.”
“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 rising surge of families and individuals arriving at our southern border,” the official added.
On Thursday, more than 150 national and local civil rights groups and religious, children’s and women’s organizations sent a letter to the president opposing planned raids.
More than 12,000 individuals in family units were apprehended at the border in October and November, compared with about 4,500 in the same months of 2014. The number of unaccompanied minors caught during those two months topped 10,000, compared with about 5,000 in the same period a year earlier.
That has raised concerns that the number of Central Americans trying to enter the country could jump in 2016, as it did in the summer of 2014, when more than 10,000 Central American minors a month came into the U.S.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted last week about the looming raids: “Democrats and President Obama are now, because of me, starting to deport people who are here illegally.”