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Nothing says “holiday season” like immigration raids

How festive.

Immigration agents are planning to round up Central American families that have been ordered deported by a judge in response to an unexpected surge in children and families crossing the border in South Texas, a former high-ranking immigration official said Thursday.

Alonzo Peña, the deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2009 and 2010, said officials are concerned because the number of families crossing the border usually slows down this time of year, yet Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley have seen an increase in recent months.

The Border Patrol apprehended about 50,000 children and families in 2015 in the Rio Grande Valley, down from about 100,000 in 2014, but the number of apprehensions has spiked since September, according to Border Patrol statistics.

“The numbers for this time of year, normally they drop, and they’re continuing to surge and increase,” Peña said. “They’ve got to figure out ways to send a message that the gates are not open, the doors are not open and it’s not a free pass. And they’re concentrating on those that have final orders, who have exhausted their due process.”

ICE regularly conducts what it calls targeted enforcement operations, in which agents round up immigrants who fall under the agency’s priorities for deportation, including those who recently crossed the border, those convicted of crimes and those who have been ordered removed by an immigration judge. This would be the first such operation specifically targeting families.

News of the planned raids, first published by the Washington Post, which reported they would likely happen in January but hadn’t received final approval, drew criticism from activists. Hundreds of immigrants might be targeted, the newspaper reported.

“Such a roundup would be a nightmare for those families and for our claim to being a nation of refuge,” Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration advocacy group America’s Voice, said in a written statement.

Here’s that WaPo story. Some of this may sound reasonable, but ICE’s track record is lousy, and the so-called “family detention centers” we use are horrible, for-profit jails being used to warehouse children. And not to be crass about it, but the politics of this are awful for Democratic Presidential candidates trying to draw clear distinctions between themselves and the deport-em-all GOP frontrunners. This is a bad idea, and we really need to rethink what we are doing here. ThinkProgress and TPM have more.

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One Comment

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    These are illegal aliens that have already exhausted our court system (at citizen taxpayer expense, by the way) and have been ordered to leave. If Christmas is so important to those folks, why didn’t they obey our law and leave? The could already have celebrated Christmas in their own country, with no worries about families being split up, etc.

    If you had made an argument that, perhaps, in the spirit of Christmas, a cop should overlook an illegal alien during a traffic stop and ticket for no driver’s license or a small amount of drugs vs. arresting that person, that would be an argument. These people, however, have been through all that and been ordered to leave, period.

    Here’s the basic problem with arguing that illegal aliens be allowed to stay here since they managed to not get caught for a while: Let’s take Guatemala. The Guatemalans come here and claim they are fleeing violence. Well, if that’s the case, then the whole country of Guatemala could just surge across one day and make the same claim. Why not just annex Guatemala, period? It would be easier, just one check to write vs. millions of checks to our newest freeloaders.