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Featured Issue: Central American Refugee Response

In the summer of 2014, the steadily increasing levels of violence and insecurity in the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) reached peak levels and erupted into a regional humanitarian crisis. Record numbers of unaccompanied children and families were fleeing, and not only to the United States. Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize all experienced a 1,185% increase in asylum applications from nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras between 2008 and 2014. Though President Obama initially called for a humanitarian response, soon thereafter he called it a border security problem demanding a deterrence strategy. In late 2015, the number of Central American families crossing the border increased again. In the last week of December 2015, The Washington Post and other news sources widely reported that DHS intended to do roundups nationwide to deport Central American families.

On January 4, 2016, DHS Secretary Johnson confirmed that 121 adults and children were apprehended in raids during the New Year's weekend across the country. Two months later, on March 9, 2016, Secretary Johnson announced that ICE had been conducting "Operation Guardian Border" since January 23, 2016. According to the Secretary's statement the operation had apprehended 336 individuals, most of whom had entered as unaccompanied children after January 1, 2014, and are now over 18 years of age. AILA has condemned the administration's inhumane tactics to detain and deport families seeking protection.

"DHS enforcement policies involving women and children seeking asylum at our borders violate due process, repudiate our fundamental values of fairness and justice, and have sown widespread fear and turmoil in communities, schools, and churches nationwide," said AILA President Victor Nieblas Pradis. "By refusing to acknowledge the distrust and terror that is the result of using these harsh enforcement tactics on the most vulnerable, [Secretary Johnson] and President Obama are living up to the worst rather than the best of America and leaving a shameful legacy of unfair and unjust treatment of children, mothers, and asylum seekers."

DHS Raids on Central American Families and Children

AILA Member Action Items

Congressional Attempts to Undermine Protections for Asylees and Unaccompanied Children

Government Resources

More Resources

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 14070148.