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Immigrant Rights Groups, Labor, Faith, Families, and Members of Congress Demand Obama Administration Put an End to Home Raids of Central American Immigrants

 

WH Guti

For Immediate Release: Friday, January 8, 2016

Contact: Carlos Vogel, 202-239-2133, cvogel@communitychange.org

(WASHINGTON) —Today, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), CASA, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC); the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Church World Service (CWS); United We Dream (UWD); Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights; National Domestic Workers Alliance; and impacted families held a press conference in front of the White House to demand that the Obama Administration immediately put an end to their plan to continue to raid people’s homes, terrorize families and rip them apart.

Since DHS began home raids this past weekend, it has been reported that over 121 people – most of them women and children – have been taken to be returned to extraordinarily dangerous situations without being afforded all opportunities to seek asylum in the United States. These families, particularly children, are a vulnerable population and must be afforded the guarantee of access to all avenues in our judicial and immigration systems.

“We will not stand by and allow this to happen to families who came to the U.S. to escape extreme violence and poverty,” said FIRM spokesperson Sulma Arias. “If these families are deported — and most of them would be women and children-they would be returned to places they fled to escape being killed, raped or tortured.”

Sandra, a Central American refugee with a final deportation order and in high risk of being taken by ICE said, “I am terrified that ICE will come banging on my door, as it has happened to other people in my neighborhood. I came to this country back in 2013 carrying my 4 year old boy, escaping hunger, poverty, murder, and even kidnappings of members of my own family. My life and the life of my son are in danger if we are returned to my native country. I do not want my life and the life of my son ending up in a coffin. I do not want to be murdered, as has happened with other members of my family.”

“Central American families came to the United States seeking refuge and better lives, like countless millions of other immigrants, “stated Gustavo Torres, Co-Chair, Fair Immigration Reform Movement. “That is what has made America the great country that it is. Rounding up these families to deport them back to a region marked by extreme violence is inhumane.”

“Although the administration has claimed otherwise, these women and children fleeing violence have not necessarily had a full and fair day in court,” said Kamal Essaheb, Director of Policy and Advocacy, NILC . “In its rush to send women and children back to the violence they fled, the administration is trampling upon our fundamental due process rights.”

For Jaime Contreras, 32BJ SEIU, Vice-President, the issues discussed today are near and dear to his heart because he came to the U.S. as a young boy, at just 13 years old, fleeing bloody violence in his home country of El Salvador. “I was all alone, just me and my younger brother. I held his hand as we were welcomed in to the United States at the Mexican border. Now, others from Central America are not being welcomed in but terrorized and thrown into the shadows. We should never make women and children, who are of no harm or threat and victims of unthinkable violence a priority deportation.”

“Across faith traditions we are called by our sacred texts to welcome the stranger in our midst and love our neighbor. The immoral and unjust immigration policies enforced by the Obama administration have moved hundreds of faith communities across the United States to act  on our faith by offering sanctuary and supporting our immigrant brothers and sisters who are targeted by these inhumane ICE raids,” said Rev. Noel Andersen, Grassroots Coordinator for Immigrant Rights, Church World Services. “We call on the White House and DHS to immediately stop the structural sins of raids and deportations; instead focusing their resources on providing much needed legal and humanitarian assistance to those fleeing violence, persecution, and extreme poverty. As Americans and as people of faith, we will continue to organize and advocate with our immigrant brothers and sisters until no other family lives in fear of our country’s unjust immigration policies.”

“President Obama continues to cement his legacy as Deporter-in-Chief. Our communities have been terrified of President Obama’s enforcement policies for most of his term. Today, we continue to live in fear,” said Greisa Martinez, Director of Advocacy, United We Dream (UWD). “We demand that President Obama halts all raids and provides these families with the relief they deserve.  Immigrant youth expect true moral leadership from the Democratic Party and its leaders at all levels on this issue, lest they choose to follow Trump’s lead and be perpetually branded as the Deportation Party.”

“FIRM will do everything in its power to stop this plan from continue to be implemented. We cannot and we will not remain silent when our families are living in fear of being separated and sent back to face possible harm, including death. The government must work to ensure that anyone in the country seeking protection is afforded safety, not deportation. Until then, our nationwide movement and its supporters will fight hard to stop these deportations from taking place. President Obama, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and ICE Director Sarah Saldana betrayal of the Latino and immigrant communities is one that will mark his legacy and that of this administration,” concluded FIRM spokesperson Sulma Arias.“

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