Timothy Widman Comments on Recent ICE Raids

The Los Angeles Times reported on January 3, 2016 that Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) has begun conducting raids on Central American families in the United States. The raids had been rumored to be in the works since before Christmas. It appears now that ICE is pursuing a campaign of rounding up families with deportation orders for eventual removal.

This is a shameful development. ICE is deploying precious enforcement resources to find and deport families, many with no criminal histories, who fled countries like Honduras where violence is epidemic. Sending individuals back in many cases will equate to an automatic death sentence. ICE’s secretive maneuvers will cause an erosion of trust in immigrant communities. Organized raids which target families in their homes is inconsistent with American values. Due process is not supposed to look like a police state.

Many of the families detained in the raids will likely be processed for removal through family detention centers whose conditions vary little from those of 20th century American internment camps. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is apparently trying to send a “message” to would-be migrants not to attempt entry to the United States, and that if they do so, they will be subjected to harrowing raids in their homes before finally being returned to unsafe parts of Central America.

The likely outcome of ICEs raids is not a cessation of the flow of legitimate asylum seekers, but the deplorable treatment of migrants who have sacrificed everything to make the journey to the United States in search of freedom from the tyranny of gangs and violence and in hopes of finding a better way of life.

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