Federal Government Steps Up Efforts to Deport Central American Mothers and Children without Due Process

George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

SAN ANTONIO, TX - Since news broke two weeks ago of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) renewed targeting of families and unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America, attorneys with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project at the South Texas Family Residential Center (STFRC) and the Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, have already seen 16 such families. Thus far, the cases are predominantly from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texas, jurisdictions which government statistics show are some of the most difficult courts in which to successfully claim asylum.

Yesterday, despite knowing that a family was afraid of being killed in their home country but that their asylum claim had never been heard, and despite knowing that attorneys had requested a stay of removal and were in the midst of filing an appeal, ICE deported a mother and her 14-year-old daughter from the STFRC in Dilley. Katie Shepherd, Managing Attorney for the CARA Project stated:

"Just like in January, we are seeing mothers and children who are confused, disoriented, and terrified for themselves and their children. Once again, CARA Project staff and volunteers are trying to meet the needs of this new influx of asylum seekers who have not had a meaningful chance to make claims for protection and are in very real danger of being deported to their deaths.

"The case yesterday was heartbreaking. ICE knew this mother was afraid and that attorneys had filed a stay request and various motions on her behalf. Rather than allowing for adjudication of those requests, ICE swiftly deported the mother and her child, informing counsel only after the fact. It is outrageous that, knowing that her appeal was in the works and that she had expressed a fear of return, ICE chose to hustle the family out of the detention center in the dark of night and put them on a plane before the courthouse doors opened. From the start, when ICE handcuffed the 14-year-old, to the end when the family was rushed to deportation, none of ICE's actions show any kind of concern by the Obama Administration about this family's due process rights.

"This family is just the latest in the string of lives destroyed by a government that refuses to administer our refugee protection system with the care it requires. Sadly, ICE's harsh enforcement tactics will put many more vulnerable people at risk."

Press inquiries, please contact:

AILA: Belle Woods, bwoods@aila.org, 202-507-7675
Council: Wendy Feliz, wfeliz@immcouncil.org, 202-507-7524
RAICES: Mohammad Abdollahi, mo@raicestexas.org, 210-544-7811
CLINIC: Patricia Zapor, pzapor@cliniclegal.org, 301-565-4830


The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project is a partnership of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council (Council), Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), that provides legal representation and undertakes advocacy on behalf of mothers and children held in federal family detention centers.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 16052511.