AILA Condemns Raids on Vulnerable Central American Families

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - Responding to reports of nationwide arrests targeting mothers and children conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) condemns the raids conducted to detain and deport families, most of whom are fleeing targeted violence in Central America. The statement issued by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson fails to justify predawn arrests of families. AILA President Victor Nieblas Pradis stated:

"The detention and deportation of this most vulnerable of populations is unconscionable and inherently wrong. Rounding up mothers and children who have fled the most violent region in the western hemisphere and are trying to find refuge abrogates our legal obligations to provide protection to refugees. The Obama Administration should be ashamed of these actions and immediately suspend them.

"Our laws protect asylum seekers crossing the border from being prosecuted for illegal entry, but the government refuses to acknowledge that these mothers and children have fled from uncontrollable violence and need asylum protection.

"Hundreds of AILA members have volunteered thousands of hours at family detention facilities in Dilley, Texas, and elsewhere to ensure that detained families receive the legal counsel they need. Now that these raids have begun and families are being sent down to Texas for processing and removal, ICE must ensure that each case is evaluated by legal counsel before any mother or child is deported back to danger. Since these plans first came to light, AILA and its partners have been pleading with the administration to be more transparent about how it will conduct the raids, and to work with us to ensure that no one is wrongly deported, but the government seems to have no respect or appreciation for what is at stake here - our country's fundamental values and the lives of women and children.

"No matter how the administration tries to gloss this over, the reality is that already traumatized families who may not have had any access to legal counsel or understand their rights and responsibilities under our nation's asylum laws could be sent to their deaths."

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 16010409.