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Central American immigrants prepare for rumored ICE raids

Since being sworn in as president in 2008, President Barak Obama has been vocal about his plans to reform U.S. immigration policy. However, absent the support of republican members of Congress, during his seven years as president, Obama has been unable to pass any sweeping immigration reform. He has, however, invoked his executive power to make certain changes to existing immigration laws. 

These measures include focusing on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border and taking action to require undocumented immigrants to pay U.S. taxes. Additionally, Obama declared that deportation efforts will focus on “felons, not families,” and specifically those individuals with criminal records or links to gangs or terrorism. However, If recent rumors of the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to “round up and deport families deemed illegally present in the U.S.” are true, it appears as those the administration’s promise to not target families has been broken.

Since 2014, thousands of men, women and children fleeing the violence in Central America have poured over the U.S.-Mexican border. In many cases, these families and individuals have sought asylum in the U.S. and are allowed to stay with relatives until their cases are decided. Sadly, and often for unknown reasons, the asylum claims of many are denied and they face deportation.

Recently, there have been reports of impending widespread raids on these families by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. For these families, many of whom likely lack any legal advocate and have not taken action to appeal a denial for asylum, returning to their home countries is akin to a death sentence.

Individuals who are planning to apply for asylum in the U.S. or who have had an asylum claim denied are advised to contact an immigration attorney. The U.S. immigration system is notoriously complex and many individuals who attempt to gain protection under the asylum program are not aware of their rights.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, “Sweep of immigrant families in US illegally comes at poignant moment,” Howard LaFranchi, Dec. 24, 2015, “Immigration,” Dec. 31, 2015

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