A House coalition of pro-immigrants’ rights Democrats called on the Obama Administration to end the deportation of undocumented persons on Wednesday at Capitol Hill, appearing with Central American refugees in show of solace to the plight of those seeking asylum from the war-torn region.
The coalition, which includes Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), Luis Gutiérrez (IL) and Zoe Lofgren (CA), is making the appeal after the revelation more raids are being planned by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency over a 30-day period in May and June.
In January, 121 undocumented immigrants — mainly women and children from Central America — were detained and designated for deportation after ICE carried out previously announced sting operations in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.
“The removal operations . . . do not live up to our American values or our time-honored tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing violence and brutality in their own country,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard. “We agree that the administration must continue to enforce our immigration laws and deport felons . . . But not women and children.”
The White House pushed back on Friday, with spokesman Josh Earnest reiterating that those who have applied for asylum or other humanitarian relief status are not eligible for removal.
It what may be politically motivated election-year rhetoric, Earnest also said the White House anticipates “that the deportation numbers would continue to go up.”
DHS statistics released earlier in May show that border arrests decreased after enforcement operations were announced in December, suggesting that the threat of raids works as a deterrent to those wanting to cross the border illegally.
The coalition of Democrats who are speaking out against Obama’s policy, however, argue that there are other humanitarian solutions that should be given priority, such as investing in improving conditions on the ground in Central American countries and working with the UN to create a regional refugee program.
“Obama should stop the deportations . . . (Central America is) lawless and becoming worse,” said Rep. Gutiérrez. “More children will be coming this summer, because the violence is unabated . . . They have a right to seek and petition our government, and we want to protect that right.”
Another Congressional Democrat who wants to protect that right is Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
On Sunday, Sanders visited with deported Mexican immigrants at Friendship Park on the San Diego-Tijuana border.
While walking along the American side of the border wall which divides Mexico and the U.S., Sanders called for “comprehensive immigration reform” to fix a “very, very broken immigration system,” which includes “a path towards citizenship” for undocumented immigrants.
Friendship Park first opened in 1971 for separated immigrant families to visit each other during designated hours.
[The Hill] [Reuters] [RT News] [Photo courtesy Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images via Huffington Post]