Back in 2014 and 2015, thousands of refugees fleeing violence in their countries, streamed across the United States’ southern borders. In many cases, unaccompanied minors were part of the migrants. Each person was given a hearing date to appear before an Immigration Judge to determine if their fear rose to the level of political asylum. To be granted political asylum, one must show that they will be harmed by someone who seeks to persecute them on account of either political opinion, race, religion, national origin, or being a member of a particular social group. Typically, generalized violence does not rise to the level of being granted asylum.
The result is that many of the thousands who crossed into the United States either did not appear for their removal hearing or they were ordered deported by an Immigration Judge and did not depart the United States. Technically, this makes them fugitives. In the past, the Obama administration has issued policy to allow certain groups in the same exact scenario to remain in the United States by shifting enforcement priorities. Examples are the DREAMers, and those who are parents of United States citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents.
The Obama administration, however, has deemed the Central Americans an enforcement priority. Many immigration advocates feel that it is repugnant to send law enforcement personnel on raids to capture and deport families, including children, to countries where their lives are in danger each day.
Today, January 4th, 2016, the raids have begun. In several cities around the country, police are knocking on the doors of immigrants who came to the United States as families fleeing certain kidnapping or death. Some are even still wearing ankle monitors placed by ICE. The administration is under fire for targeting these non-violent families for deportation while convicted criminals are not being deported. Another concern is that the facilities where the migrants are being detained are not appropriate for children and that these people are not represented by immigration attorneys.
The administration is deporting these families as part of a plan to convince migrants that entering the United States is illegal and fruitless. It is part of the plan to secure the U.S.-Mexican border.