DHS secretary defends Central American deportation

The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has strongly defended the commencement of a controversial operation that has seen 120 adults and children − primarily undocumented immigrants from Central America who failed to gain political asylum and were ordered to be removed by immigration judges − rounded up in readiness for deportation.

“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,” Jeh Johnson declared yesterday. The US government claims that the immigrants taken into custody over the weekend were primarily those from Central America who illegally entered the United States via the southern border after May 1st last year and had been given final removal orders by immigration courts.

The great majority of those currently in detention were the result of raids in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, although Johnson claims they were part of concerted enforcement operations carried out across the United States. A senior administration official claimed that the increasingly anti-immigration climate fostered by the battle for presidential candidacy for this year had no bearing on the raids being given the go-ahead; instead, it was a reaction to the increasing numbers of undocumented immigrants crossing the border.

Johnson went on to say that further operations to enhance the enforcement of immigration laws will continue to take place when appropriate, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Matthew Bourke saying that it was hoped that the crackdown would deter other undocumented immigrants from crossing the US border.