The DHS said that nationwide deportations of Central American families who have already been ordered to leave were coming–and now they’re happening. Yet, these aren’t large-scale operations in the vein of workplace raids, according to the LA Times. Instead, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is targeting the addresses of the families who have already been given orders to leave the country. Of course, immigration rights groups are worried about whether this is a proper use of government resources, along with the conditions of the detention centers (via LA Times):
The detentions of at least 11 families across the country marked the first day of an effort by the government to find and deport Central American migrants who sought refuge in the U.S. and stayed illegally, immigrant advocates said Saturday.
Unlike a string of immigration raids in the mid-2000s, agents do not plan to conduct workplace raids or other mass enforcement actions, but will instead target addresses for families with deportation orders.
Obama administration officials said in late December that they would step up deportations of those who had already been told to leave the country.
"Attempting to unlawfully enter the United States as a family unit does not protect individuals from being subject to the immigration laws of this country," said an official with the Department of Homeland Security who was not permitted to speak on the record. "ICE will continue to pursue the removal of persons who fall within DHS immigration enforcement priorities, including families who are recent unlawful border crossers and who are subject to final orders of removal."
The official says that ICE is working to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, and that the deportations are part of a plan to convince migrants that entering the country illegally is "fruitless."
Previous enforcement policy, officials have said, has done little to deter Central American migrants, and judicial orders releasing many migrant families from detention have fed a perception in Central America that anyone who reaches the U.S. can stay.
Immigrant advocates questioned prioritizing nonviolent migrants for deportation and whether the facilities that hold them are suitable for minors.
Last December, the Washington Post reported that more than 100,000 families could expect a visit by ICE agents.