A coalition of Los Angeles labor and community groups have come together to fight Department of Homeland Security plans to deport thousands of Central American immigrants.
Stop Separating Families said federal agents are stepping up arrests and deportations this month of those who had their asylum claims denied.
[Ernesto Arce has more from Los Angeles.]
According to Border Patrol statistics, some 120,000 Central American migrants were apprehended for crossing into the U.S. without permission since January 2014. The great majority of them were detained and processed at Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers.
Many unaccompanied children were released to family members after media reports revealed images of dozens of children incarcerated in small concrete rooms.
Now, the Obama Administration wants to send them back home as a way of sending a message to others: the U.S. must enforce its border laws, as broken as they may be.
Julissa Arceo, with Stop Separating Families, said the newcomers are not immigrants but refugees that should be protected by international law.
[Julissa Arceo]: “Under our country’s laws there is a process for them to seek asylum. That process is not being followed. We are asking three year-old children to represent themselves in front of an immigration judge. So once their cases area denied, we say, ‘You have to leave the country.’ I think it’s easy to understand why these people aren’t flocking back to their countries. El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras have some of the highest murder rates in the world.”
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor has been active in recent years not only in calling for a $15 federal minimum wage, healthcare, and affordable housing, it has also come to the defense of immigrant communities that it says are under attack.
House Democrats released a statement recently calling enforcement actions against women and children who have fled violence in their home countries, plain cruel.
[Julissa Arceo]: “Imagine if you are one of those mothers or one of those children who has fled unimaginable circumstances. You left everything behind because the conditions there are so terrible that you would rather risk your life to come all the way through Mexico to present your case. So you are tired, traumatized from the trip and now you’re being asked to present your case in front of an immigration judge many many times without a lawyer present. I really can’t make this stuff up.”
Despite growing anger among its allies, administration officials are worried they could face another uncontrolled summer influx, like the one in 2014. That could damage President Obama’s standing on immigration and inflame the volatile presidential campaign, where the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump, has called for construction of a wall along the border with Mexico.
Supporters of the upcoming immigration actions met with staffers for Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis to urge tougher immigration policies and for quicker deportations.
“The head Sheriff McDonnell released information that crime statistics are up considerably since the release of all these illegal aliens.”
Many women and children who came to the U.S. since 2014 said they were running from violent street gangs, especially in El Salvador and Honduras. The families applied for asylum, but 86 percent of them went to court without lawyers.
Court records show that asylum seekers have a very low chance of success without lawyers.
For Workers Independent News, Ernesto Arce, Los Angeles