Washington: The US has launched nationwide enforcement operations to arrest and deport illegal immigrants who entered the country with children and have lost asylum cases.
Most of those arrests are of those entering the US from its southern border.
This past weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) engaged in concerted, nationwide enforcement operations to take into custody and return at a greater rate adults who entered this country illegally with children, the US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said.
“This should come as no surprise. I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed,” he said.
Johnson said the focus of this weekend’s operations were on adults and their children who were apprehended after May 1, 2014 when they were crossing the southern border illegally.
They have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court and have exhausted appropriate legal remedies and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under US laws.
“As part of these operations, 121 individuals were taken into custody, primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, and they are now in the process of being repatriated,” Johnson said.
To effect removal, most families are first being transported to one of ICE’s family residential centres for temporary processing before being issued travel documents and boarding a return flight to their home countries, he said.
Over 11 million immigrants are living in the US illegally, according to estimates.
Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum said these arrests and deportation is not safe or sustainable.
“Deportation raids instill fear in immigrant communities, and deportation is not an acceptable substitute for well-functioning refugee and asylum processes for families with credible fear of persecution,” he said.
“The approach DHS has outlined is not safe or sustainable. It is faulty logic for DHS to believe that if they deport people fleeing violence back to violence, others will never come to the US,” Noorani said.
The Homeland Security Secretary defended the action.
“As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration; if you come here illegally, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values,” Johnson said.