Two days before Christmas 2015, the Washington Post leaked news that President Obama’s administration was finalizing plans to conduct harsh enforcement tactics to apprehend and deport refugee families that have been ordered removed by a judge. The nationwide raids, carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would mainly target families who have fled violence in Central America. More than 100,000 families with both adults and children have made the journey across the southwest border since last year along with thousands of other unaccompanied minors that have made the same journey.
Although it is unclear how long these immigration raids will continue, over one hundred individuals have been apprehended and many have already faced deportation. The raids and apprehensions have been conducted among widespread criticism, reports of excessive force, misuse of warrants, and improper and incomplete legal representation for the targets.
Undoubtedly, these immigration raids have a chilling effect among immigrant communities nationwide. Numerous studies show the negative psychological and physical impacts raids have on family members, business, and schools. Indeed, the spreading fear and lack of communication from the administration have left immigrant communities in the dark and scrambling for information.
In this context, United We Dream (UWD) operates the only national hotline to report ICE activity. The Deportation Defense Hotline began in 2014 as a response to the administration’s new deportation priorities memo and the predicted increase in enforcement activities by ICE. So far, the hotline has indicated a growing presence and visibility of ICE’s immigration enforcement activities among immigrant communities.
Raids have never been the answer. In order to address the situation, the administration must handle the issue as it is: a humanitarian and refugee crisis. UWD urges the administration to end the use of raids, guarantee access to legal representation, provide broad relief to all individuals facing violence and humanitarian crises in their home countries , and ensure oversight and accountability for DHS.
Table of Contents
Introduction and executive summary
Current raids and operations by ICE
ICE agents’ conduct during the raids
Due process concerns
Impact of raids on immigrant communities
The United We Dream Deportation Defense Hotline
How the hotline works
Hotline activity during immigration raids
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