Deportation of Central American immigrants condemned by activists

Immigrant advocates in Illinois spoke out on Tuesday against the federal government’s crackdown on undocumented immigrant families that have recently illegally crossed the southern border into the United States. These families are being taken into custody with the intention of deporting them back to their home countries.

Over the course of the past weekend, 121 undocumented adult immigrants and their children in the states of Texas, Georgia and North Carolina were apprehended by officials from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of what Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, referred to as “nationwide enforcement operations”. The aim of these operations is to take undocumented immigrants with children into custody and then deport them at a faster rate than has been previously the case.

The actions were taken by ICE in response to the increasing influx of immigrants from Central America that began to arrive at the southern border of the United States early in 2014. ICE has targeted 121 individuals who entered the US illegally after May 2014 and have been ordered to be removed from the country by immigration judges. Johnson says those who have been apprehended will be processed, then issued with travel documentation, and finally sent back to their country of origin by plane.

Immigration advocates are outraged by the move. “We want these deportations to stop,” says Lawrence Benito from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The group wants local ICE director Ricardo Wong to refuse to participate in the raids and is calling on faith leaders, elected officials and others not to cooperate with ICE.