Yesterday morning, the New York Times editorial board took note of Obama Administration’s latest policy inconsistency: fighting in the Supreme Court this week to halt deportations of many undocumented immigrants while simultaneously rounding up thousands of young people, mothers and children fleeing violence in Central America.
In November 2014, with no prospect for legislative immigration reform anywhere on the horizon, President Obama used his executive authority to defer the deportations of five million undocumented immigrants who are parents to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Twenty-six states, outraged at the prospect of this limited relief, brought suit, winning in the Texas district court and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Administration has vigorously defended its authority, petitioning the Supreme Court for an expedited process and arguing its defense before the Justices on Monday.
Yet at the same time, the same administration has targeted refugees fleeing gang warfare and state-sponsored violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, first resurrecting the family detention centers that sparked so much criticism in the Bush years, then, under a policy called “Operation Border Guardian,” re-arresting those who manage to win supervised release, in order to deport them back to the countries they have fled. Operation Border Guardian is “treating a humanitarian emergency like a border-security problem,” as the Times put it. Among the victims are “more than 300 recent migrants from Central America, youths who crossed the border without their parents and turned 18 in the United States, thus losing some of the protections granted to unaccompanied minors.”
“ICE has been running amok,” the editorial says flatly, “raiding homes and public spaces in search of deportable youths.”
Operation Border Guardian, initiated in January 2016, is just the newest iteration of the ICE’s long-standing practice of raiding homes to hunt down immigrants. CCR has a strong history of working with immigrants’ rights advocates and immigrant communities to oppose and expose ICE’s brutal tactics. In two cases challenging Bush-era home raids, Argueta v. Myers and Aguilar v. ICE, we won significant settlements and policy changes, and we are currently working with our partners at the Immigrant Defense Project and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama to uncover information about the Obama administration’s home raid policies through Freedom of Information Act litigation.
That case, IDP v. ICE, resulted in a November 2014 court order for ICE and the Department of Homeland Security to start turning over documents. But their failure to adequately search for relevant documents – and their amazing claim that they don’t even keep data on home raids, a policy they openly tout as essential to enforcement – has meant we’ve had to go back to the court again to ask the judge to compel them to do an adequate search.
Meanwhile, Obama’s cruel policies toward refugees continue to create constant fear in immigrant households and communities.