Seguritan US Immigration Articles

Conviction For Elderly Abuse is Bar to Deportation Relief

For noncitizens residing here in the US, the commission of certain crimes has immigration consequences. It may render them inadmissible and/ or deportable. There are also certain crimes known as CIMT or crimes involving moral turpitude which may preclude eligibility for deportation relief including cancellation of removal. A CIMT has been defined by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) as a crime that is “inherently base, vile, or depraved, and contrary to accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general.”

In one case, an alien entered the US without inspection and without any legal documents. He was later convicted of abuse of an elderly. When he tried to take advantage of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), his request was denied because of his conviction. On the very same day, he was issued a Notice to Appear by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), charging him with removability because he was an alien present in the United States without being admitted or paroled under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and he was an alien convicted of a CIMT.

The immigration judge ordered him removed. He appealed to the BIA contending that he qualified for relief from removal. The BIA determined that he did not qualify for relief because of his conviction for CIMT. He filed a petition for review with the US Court of Appeals but his petition was dismissed.

It is worth noting that in Florida, a criminal conviction for abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult is considered a CIMT and will hold an alien ineligible for relief from removal proceedings based on this criminal conviction.

Under Florida laws, a person who knowingly or willingly abuse an elderly person or disabled adult without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the elderly person or disabled adult commits a felony of the third degree. For the willful act to be considered an “abuse”, it has to be one of the following three alternative ways: (a) intentional infliction of physical or psychological injury upon an elderly person or disabled adult; (b) an intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult; or (3) active encouragement of any person to commit an act that results or could reasonably be expected to result in physical or psychological injury to an elderly person or disabled adult.

It is very important for foreign nationals to seek the help of accredited immigration lawyers because CIMTs can affect the immigration status or application for immigration relief. Even those who were initially admitted to the US and travelled to other countries may have difficulty reentering the US because of a CIMT. Those who want to adjust status or become lawful permanent residents may likewise find it challenging if they have a CIMT especially if this happened within five years from admission. Same goes to those who want to apply as US citizens.

Different states have different penal laws as well. Thus, a CIMT in one state may not be a CIMT in another state.

Last year, we successfully represented a Filipino caregiver in her immigration case. She had been convicted of violating the California Penal Code Section 368 (c) for committing the crime of abuse of elder or dependent adult by caretaker. In that case, there was a finding that said caretaker “willfully caused and permitted his ward’s person and health to be injured and willfully caused and permitted the elder victim to be placed in a situation where his person and health have been endangered.”

 

Relief from Deportation

Although president-elect Donald Trump has softened his stance on deporting undocumented immigrants, many are still fearful of what his presidency could do especially to the young immigrants who came out of the shadows and offered their information in exchange for the protection promised by the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Being placed under removal proceedings, otherwise known as deportation, is probably one of the hardest things any immigrant might have to experience. Thankfully, various deportation reliefs are available. Some reliefs will even offer a path to permanent residence which can ultimately lead to citizenship. Therefore, it is best to know what options are available before giving up hope.

Reliefs from deportation include asylum, cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, voluntary departure and deferred action.

Aliens who have a well-founded fear of persecution from their home country on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a political group or political opinion can seek asylum here in the US. They can bring their family members to the US, obtain employment authorization and may be eligible to apply for a green card one year after the grant of an asylum.

Cancellation of removal, just like an application for asylum, can also lead to a green card.

To be eligible for cancellation, the alien must prove continuous physical presence in the US of at least 10 years counted from the first physical entry into the country, legally or illegally, and ends upon the service of the notice to appear (NTA) at a removal proceedings. He must also prove his good moral character during the 10-year period and must establish that deportation would result in ‘exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a US citizen or a legal permanent resident spouse, parent or child.

For an alien who was admitted and inspected when he came to the US and he is the parent, spouse, widow or child of a US citizen, he may apply to adjust his status to permanent residence even before the immigration judge if removal proceedings have already begun.

Another type of relief that may be available is voluntary departure. This allows an alien who would otherwise be deported to leave the US at his own expense but within the time period ordered by the judge, which can be as long as 120 days if requested at the beginning of the proceedings.

An alien who is ordered removed may be barred from reentering the US for at least several years, but one who voluntarily departs is not subject to the penalties of removal. Voluntary departure may be requested before or at the master calendar hearing, after the individual hearing, or at the conclusion of the proceedings.

Finally, the alien can also request for a deferred action which may be granted for humanitarian reasons. It is a form of relief granted not by the judge but in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion by the district director.

The alien must demonstrate that his removal is not a priority of the government. Some of the factors to be considered include the likelihood of ultimately removing the alien; the presence of sympathetic factors; likelihood of a large amount of adverse publicity because of those sympathetic factors; the alien’s continued presence is desired by law enforcement for an ongoing investigation or review; and whether the alien is a member of a class that is  a high enforcement priority.

 

New Bipartisan Bill To Protect DREAMers from Deportation

DREAMers may have found hope against possible deportation in the coming months as a new bipartisan bill that will protect them is underway.

Called the “Bar Removal of Immigrants who Dream and Grow the Economy” or BRIDGE Act, the new bill introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) would provide DACA-eligible individuals temporary protection from deportation. They will be placed under “provisional protected presence” similar to the one provided by the DACA or the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals. They will also be granted work permits and will be allowed to continue their schooling after paying the required fees and undergoing background checks.

DACA protected the children of immigrants brought here to the US before turning 16 years old and have remained here, gone to school or worked and maintained no criminal records. But because DACA was merely an executive action, that could be repealed by President-elect Donald Trump, having a bill that would safeguard 740,000 young people from deportation is a glimmer of hope.

Although the text of the actual bill is not yet available as this will be reintroduced in January 2017, the provisional protected presence will be for three years. The proponents of the bill are hopeful that within those three years, they would have been able to pass a more comprehensive immigration reform act that would not only stop deportation for these young people but provide a path to citizenship as well.

The Bridge Act will also be made available not only to those who have already been granted DACA but also to those who will apply for the protection for the first time. It will also ensure that any information obtained by the government under DACA or the new provisional protected presence will not be used for immigration enforcement purposes, with exceptions for national security or non-immigration felony investigations.

Despite Republicans questioning DACA because this was done through executive rather than legislative action and the GOP’s immigration platform being anchored in securing the rule of law, both at the borders and at ports of entry, it is interesting to know that there are some Republican lawmakers that are just as willing to protect the young immigrants just as much as their Democrat counterparts. Aside from Senators Graham and Murkowski, Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) also expressed their support. However Sen. Durbin wants to add people in pairs- one Republican and one Democrat.

The senator is also hopeful that more Republicans will sign on because “most of them feel it’s only fair to take care of these young people.” He is also hopeful that with Trump slowly softening his immigration stance, they would get a more favorable response. Trump recently told Time magazine that these young people “got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Meanwhile, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed the new bipartisan bill. William A. Stock, AILA President, said “since DACA’s inception, we’ve seen three-quarters of a million DREAMers come forward in order to have a chance to pursue higher education and careers, in the process becoming productive taxpaying members of society. Senators Graham and Durbin recognize that these young adults are a vital part of our communities and an innovative and creative force that should not be stifled.”

AILA’s Executive Director Benjamin Johnson also said that “the bill is illustrative of the widespread bipartisan support for DREAMers and for reform that recognizes the valuable contributions that they and millions other immigrants have made to this country. Keeping DACA going is not only the right thing to do, it is smart business. Studies have shown that revoking DACA for the hundreds of thousands of current grantees would cost America more than $430 billion over ten years.”

 

What You Need to Know About Deportation

President-elect Donald Trump has softened his stance on immigration. During his campaign, he vowed to deport all the 11 million undocumented immigrants. In a recent interview however, he said that he would prioritize the removal of the 2 to 3 million with criminal records.

Focusing on undocumented immigrants with criminal records has also been the thrust of outgoing president Barack Obama. In 2015, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said that the focus of the agency’s limited resources was in combating threats to national security, public safety and border security rather than expending funding on individuals charged with minor crimes like traffic violations.

Back in 2011, the government deported a record-high of 396,906 individuals, 90% of those removed were criminals and repeat immigration law offenders. Fast forward to fiscal year 2015 and total deportations declined to 235,415, according to a report dated December 22, 2015 from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As of July 2016, ICE has completed 168,781 deportations, a slight decline from the same point in 2015.

While this trend and Trump’s latest pronouncements may ease the worries of some people, it must be noted that those who are without lawful immigration status may still be placed under removal proceedings. It is therefore important for them to know what to do when facing deportation. An increase in sweeps or workplace raids may occur in the coming months.

Contrary to popular belief, unless subject to expedited removal an alien is generally entitled to court proceedings before being removed. Removal proceedings typically start with the service of a notice to appear (NTA) upon the alien.

The NTA specifies, among other things, the alleged immigration violation, the charge against the alien and the specific provision/s of the law alleged to have been violated, and the time and place of the hearing. An NTA may be served in person or by mail. As non-citizens are required to notify the USCIS of any change of address within 10 days of the change, in many cases the ICE may simply mail the NTA to the alien’s last addresses and it would be considered valid service.

If served with an NTA, the alien is strongly advised to consult an immigration lawyer because being placed under removal proceedings is a serious matter. An immigration lawyer can tell him whether proceedings can be terminated because of a problem with the NTA on its face or in the way that it was served. The lawyer can analyze the facts of the case, explain what options may be available, and if the alien would be eligible for a relief from removal. Reliefs include voluntary departure, asylum, adjustment of status and cancellation of removal.

The alien must attend the scheduled master hearing, which is a preliminary hearing where the charges are read and the alien is asked to admit or contest the allegations and whether he intends to seek relief from removal. An individual hearing is scheduled if the case will be heard on the merits.

The alien may be represented by an attorney at the master and individual hearings. However, unless provided pro bono services by a volunteer attorney or by a non-profit organization, any legal representation will be at the alien’s own cost because there is no right to government-appointed counsel in immigration cases.

The alien must keep the immigration court updated of any change of address and must attend his hearings. If he fails to notify the court of an address change, and because he did not receive correspondence he fails to attend a hearing, the proceedings may continue and may result in the alien being ordered removed in absentia.

 

DREAMERS’ Dilemma: To File or Not to File for DACA

Young immigrants known as Dreamers are in a dilemma after the election of Donald Trump as president. Should they file for DACA? Should those with DACA status file for renewal or travel under advance parole?

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is an executive action which was announced by outgoing US President Barack Obama back in June 2012 following the failure of the DREAM Act’s passage into law. It is lacking the force of law, and operating under the enforcement discretion of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), USCIS and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It does not guarantee a path to citizenship but rather defers deportation to those who came to the US before turning 16 years old and have continuously resided in the country, gone to school and have no criminal records.

While it has helped a lot of young immigrants obtain work permits and travel authorization and be protected from deportation during Obama’s presidency, the reality is that executive actions can easily be undone by the next president. With Trump’s platform on undocumented immigrants, it is highly likely that he will end this executive action.

If and when Trump decides to totally scrap DACA, there is still uncertainty as to how USCIS will handle the situation. It is possible that if USCIS will terminate DACA completely, those holding valid work permits will no longer be able to renew. It is possible that the employment authorization and advance parole may remain valid until its expiration.

As of now, it is unclear if Trump will scrap the DACA immediately upon his assumption into office. Given that it usually takes about nine months for an initial DACA application to be adjudicated, it is safe to assume that any new application will not be adjudicated prior to his assumption in office on January 20, 2017. On the other hand, renewals of DACA application are processed quicker.

Thus, to avoid paying the DACA fees with no guarantee that it will not be rescinded, it may be best to defer any new initial DACA application until Trump has completely laid down his stand on the matter. On the other hand, those who plan to renew may opt to submit their DACA renewal as soon as practicable.

For DACA recipients who also intend to travel abroad but have not yet applied for their advance parole, any new Form I-131 application may not be adjudicated prior to January 20 given the current processing times. DACA recipients with advance parole should complete their travel and return to the US as soon as practicable and before January 20 to avoid any problems coming back. One should also bear in mind that the grant of an advance parole does not guarantee admission to the US. DHS may revoke or terminate any advance parole at any time.

Those intending to apply for the first time also have to take into consideration the risk they may be putting themselves into. Because DACA was created through an executive action, there is no statutory provision guaranteeing confidentiality. In fact, it somehow encourages people to come out from the shadows and divulge pertinent information like workplace or school location, in exchange for the promise of deferred deportation and protection. While the information disclosed in a DACA request is protected from disclosure to ICE and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) for immigration enforcement purposes, there is no guarantee that this will remain the same in the coming months.

What is clear is that those who already applied for DACA already have their information in government hands. Thus, it does not appear that if one were to renew his DACA, that he will put himself in any additional risk. On the other hand, the submission of an initial application at this time would require disclosure of pertinent information that could potentially be used in case of sweeps or workplace raids that may be conducted later on.

What To Expect from Trump on Immigration

Donald Trump’s election as president has caused fear and anxiety in immigrant communities across the US.

It is no secret that central to his campaign was his hard-line stance on immigration. He vowed to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, build a wall on the US-Mexico border and make the Mexican government pay for it, triple the number of ICE agents, end sanctuary cities and suspend the issuance of visas to certain countries.

In a post-election television appearance on the CBS program “60 Minutes”, he reiterated the same promises and vowed to turn his campaign slogan into concrete actions and move forward with an aggressive policy to deport immigrants. He softened his tone a little bit by saying that he would go after two to three million undocumented aliens who are “criminals and have criminal records”.

But he did not elaborate on how he would hunt down his deportation targets. Some fear that a deportation force would be created to conduct sweeps or raids in homes and in the workplace.

He has reportedly started to assemble his immigration team and this includes at least two notorious anti immigrant activists, Kris Kobach, architect of anti immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama and Danielle Cutrona, Senator Jeff Session’s counsel, who is avowedly anti immigrant.

Now more than ever, undocumented immigrants fear deportation and separation from their families. Immigration lawyers are likewise experiencing a surge of panic-stricken families who are anxious about their future. Even Filipino migrant workers are also worried about their jobs especially since Trump has espoused a more protectionist stance and that includes “bringing jobs back to Americans.” Filipino workers fear that their contracts may abruptly end when the new president assumes office in January. Immigrant workers whose petitions are now pending are likewise anxious that they may not be able to make it here due to Trump’s statement last August 4 in his campaign in Portland, Maine tagging nine countries, including the Philippines, as terrorist nations.

To what extent will he be able to muster his executive might to be able to fulfill his ideas to “make America great again”?

We can expect that Trump will muster his executive might by way of executive actions. He will undo Pres. Obama’s policy on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).As a result, more than 700,000 young immigrants who came to the US before turning 16 and have stayed here since June 15, 2007 will find themselves in a limbo. It is very unfortunate because they have long ties with the US and have already considered it to be their home and if Trump will push through with scrapping DACA, they will not be able to attend school or find work.

It is also to be expected that Trump will totally scrap Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) which is now on hold following a preliminary injunction placed by the lower Texas court and upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court. This is sad news for those who have no lawful immigration status although they have continuously resided in the US since January 10, 2010 and have a US citizen or LPR son or daughter. Immigrant rights advocates fear that scrapping DACA and DAPA altogether will disrupt family unity and ultimately become economically disadvantageous. This would mean separation of families among affected immigrants. This could also adversely affect businesses and the local economy as certain sectors like agriculture are dependent on the labor force provided by the immigrant population.

Disappointing Ruling on DAPA and DACA+

Without any explanation, the US Supreme Court gave Pres. Barack Obama’s immigration initiatives another blow as it denied last Oct. 3 a petition to rehear United States v. Texas, also known as the DAPA and DACA+ case.

Back on June 23, the High Court came to an even 4-4 decision on the preliminary injunction placed by the lower Texas court and upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court upon DAPA and DACA+ essentially putting a stop to these programs in the whole country. The evenly split decision came about because the High Court was missing its ninth member following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia early this year.

On July 18, the Department of Justice filed with the US Supreme Court a petition to rehear the case and argued that although it was exceedingly rare, the Supreme Court had granted a rehearing in the past where the prior decision was issued by an evenly divided court and that it “appeared likely that upon reargument a majority one way or the other might be mustered.”

It is a disappointing decision for the millions of undocumented immigrants who have been waiting for DAPA and DACA+ to provide them a reprieve from deportation and an authorization to work. Many immigration advocates are also saddened by this news.

However, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) through its President William A Stock remains optimistic. “This case is far from over. Once a more complete record of the merits of Texas’ claims is created, we are confident that when the case is once again back on the Supreme Court docket, the Court will show appropriate deference to the executive branch and not legislate from the bench by enjoining this program permanently,” said Stock.

DAPA would have temporarily deferred deportation for those who have a US citizen or LPR son or daughter as of November 20, 2014 and who have continuously resided in the US since January 1, 2010 but with no lawful immigration status. As long as they had no criminal convictions and have passed a background check, these undocumented immigrants could benefit from DAPA.

DACA+ eliminated the age requirement of DACA and pushed the arrival date to January 1, 2010. It must be recalled that DACA was first introduced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) back in 2012. Under this program, those under 31 years old on June 15, 2012, have arrived in the US before becoming 16, have continuously resided from June 15, 2007 to the present, are either in school, have graduated or completed high school or a general education development (GED) certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the US Coast Guard or US Armed Forces and have not been convicted of a felony could have deferred action or deferred deportation.

With immigration policy being among the salient battleground in this year’s presidential elections—with the two parties clutching the opposite ends of the pole, undocumented immigrants cannot rest easy. While Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton promises to continue Pres. Obama’s immigration initiatives, the denial of the rehearing could also affect any further steps she may take. There is also Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s incessant vow to put a stop to Pres. Obama’s initiatives because of what he deems as a railroading of the country’s immigration laws.

Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship After Birth

Children born outside the US are automatically US citizens provided they meet all the requirements under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA).

The statutory requirements are: (1) at least one parent is a U.S. citizen either by birth or by naturalization; (2) the child is under 18 years old; (3) the child is a lawful permanent resident (green card holder); and (4) the child is residing in the US in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.

The lawful permanent resident requirement is not satisfied if the child was not issued his green card before he turned 18 even though he had applied for it and was assured that he would get it before he turned 18 but it was delayed due to bureaucratic errors committed by the USCIS.

In a recent case, a lawful permanent resident (LPR) was ordered removed by an Immigration Judge due to a previous conviction. He appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals but his appeal was dismissed. He then filed a petition for review with the US Court of Appeals.

He claimed that he was not subject to removal because he became a permanent resident before he turned 18 and therefore automatically became a US citizen under the CCA.

He was born abroad on March 29, 1983. He came to the US with his father who later naturalized and became a US citizen in 1997. He then applied for his lawful permanent resident status. However, although he submitted his application for adjustment of status before he turned 18, it was not until a few years later that his green card was issued.

So, the issue was when he became a lawful permanent resident. If he became a lawful permanent resident before he turned 18 years old, he then automatically became a US citizen under the CCA. If, however, he became a lawful permanent resident after turning 18, he was ineligible for automatic citizenship under the CCA.

The child submitted his application for lawful permanent resident status in 1997, before he turned 18. When he was 17 years old, he was interviewed by a USCIS officer and was given a signed I-89 Form. He was also informed during the said interview that he would receive his green card in three months. Unfortunately, USCIS delayed the issuance of his card for four years and issued it in 2004.

The question raised in the case was: did he really become a US citizen prior to his 18th birthday? The law states that an alien becomes a lawful permanent resident on the date the order of the Attorney General approving the application for adjustment of status is made. In other words, it is as of the date of the order approving the adjustment of status. In this case, it was when they formally gave him his green card in 2004.

He argued that the government should be estopped from placing him in removal proceedings because the USCIS caused the unreasonable delay in the issuance of his green card which cost him the opportunity to obtain US citizenship. Placing one in estoppel means that said party is not allowed to deny or allege certain facts because of said party’s previous conduct, allegation or denial. In this case, because the US government caused the delay in the issuance of the green card, it could not claim that the petitioner did not meet all the requirements for him to be considered as a lawful permanent resident and ultimately, cannot deny him of his automatic US citizenship.

The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals however said that they cannot estop the government on the facts of the case. It sought guidance from a similar case and said “to state a cause of action for estoppel against the government, a private party must allege more than mere negligence, delay, inaction, or failure to follow an internal agency guideline. Instead, the petitioner must establish, among other things, affirmative misconduct of the government.” In this case, he failed to provide evidence of affirmative misconduct on the part of the government, thus his petition was denied.

GOP Platform Has Bad News for Immigrants

The Republican Party’s platform which mirrors the vision that the party hopes to campaign on leading to the upcoming November 2016 elections has some bad news for immigrants.

Anchored on the pursuit of “Reforming the Government to Serve the People”, the GOP has sixteen major agenda that it hopes to push forward on matters of retirement security, economic growth, Medicaid and health, tax reforms and of course, immigration.

The party has acknowledged the huge contribution that immigrants have made for the American economy. “Just as immigrant labor helped build our country in the past, today’s legal immigrants are making vital contributions in every aspect of our national life. Their industry and commitment to American values strengthens our economy, enriches our culture, and enables us to better understand and more effectively compete with the rest of the world,” the platform states.

However, the platform likewise underscored that while they applaud those who go through the legal channels of immigration, they are saying that those who came here illegally undermine the benefits that legal immigrants have contributed to the country and at the same time, these undocumented immigrants threaten the safety of communities, remove jobs from US workers, and pose grave risks to the safety and the sovereignty of the United States.

Thus, their platform drumbeats the same hard line stance of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in saying that the highest priority should be in securing the rule of law  both at our borders and at ports of entry. Building the wall that they hope will counter illegal immigration is also a part of their agenda although this is nothing new since building a “wall’ was also in the Republican 2012 platform. “The double-layered fencing on the border that was enacted by Congress in 2006, but never completed, must finally be built.”

The platform promises that it will grant no amnesty to the undocumented immigrants because it rewards breaking the law and encourages more people to do the same. Instead, it promises to enforce alien e-verify programs before immigrants will be granted any kind of federal or State support or entitlements or work authorization.

Many frowns upon this platform and policy directions of the GOP saying that it has a very simplistic and black-and-white view of immigration and lacks a deep understanding of why there are illegal immigrants in the country. It has failed to recognize that for these millions of undocumented immigrants, they simply do not have a choice- they don’t have any choice but to run away from their home country either to escape persecution or gang violence, as in the cases of those trying to cross the borders from Central America or escape extreme poverty but lacks the required documented family members or skill set to be able to go through the rigorous process of legal migration.

While the document blames undocumented immigrants for taking jobs away from American workers, it has failed to provide any concrete solutions to actually provide jobs for these displaced workers.

Senators Urge Obama to Stop Deportations

As the November presidential election looms and as his term’s end draws closer, President Barack Obama faces a growing clamor to address immigration problems. The latest call for immigration reforms came from Senate Democrats that are pushing his administration to stop the deportations of asylum seekers.

Senators Edward J. Markey joined Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 22 Senate Democrats in calling for an end to the deportation raids conducted since the start of the year targeting mothers, children and unaccompanied minors who have fled the violence in Central America.

The group of senators sent a letter to Pres. Obama urging his administration “not to focus its scarce resources on deporting vulnerable individuals who have no criminal record and were not represented by counsel during their removal proceedings.” Instead, they want the administration to start working on solutions to address the root causes of the problem.

Their letter states, “Deploying immigration raids upon this vulnerable population for the purpose of deterrence is an ineffective and unacceptable strategy. Immigration raids create fear and insecurity among immigrant communities in the United States. They will deter students from attending school and parents from seeking medical care, but they will not deter terrified mothers and children from fleeing life-threatening violence in their homelands.”

Data shows that although undocumented immigrants from Mexico account for the majority of undocumented immigrants in the country, immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have surged and is touted to compare to what happened back in 2014. High murder rates and gang violence happening in these countries, called the Northern Triangle, have driven many families to flee.

Based on figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), impunity and inadequate government capacity to address the violence have exacerbated in the region in recent years. Homicides in these countries remain unresolved. From 2010 to 2013, 95 percent of murders in the Northern Triangle were unsolved or unprosecuted.

This situation has prompted many families to flee in droves to seek refuge here in the United States. However, for the past two years, the Obama administration has sent them back. In January this year, the Obama administration conducted the first large-scale effort to deport Central American families and rounded up 121 individuals. ICE agents reportedly rounded them up at wee hours in the morning, only giving about five minutes for fathers, mothers and children to gather their belongings before they were made to board ICE vehicles.

Although it has received a lot of criticisms, ICE sources say the raids will continue and target illegal alien adults and minors whose asylum cases were denied and have been ordered removed from the country.

Apart from deportation, the government has also sent those families into detention centers while they plead their asylum cases. Even infants and small children are locked up in these detention facilities set up all over the country. Usually, it takes weeks before they are interviewed and they cannot leave the detention until they have passed their interviews.

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