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.