Immigration Raids Are Targeting People with Valid Asylum Claims, According to a New Report

Since 2014, roughly 125,000 families and 115,000 unaccompanied children from Central America have been apprehended at the Southwest border of the United States, many seeking asylum. But Central American families and children arrested in immigration raids over the past month may have been denied a fair chance at claiming asylum, according to a report released on Wednesday by a coalition of immigration lawyers and nonprofit organizations.

The legal coalition, known as the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, reported 40 cases of women and children arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since the series of immigration raids began in May. The majority of those arrests took place in workplaces, homes, and schools, and the CARA project alleges that federal immigration officials engaged in “aggressive and inappropriate conduct.”

The Department of Homeland Security has said that immigration enforcement actions would target Central American migrants who had exhausted their legal options to remain in the United States, but the CARA project’s report suggests that in at least 21 of these cases, immigrants have valid asylum claims that have not yet been heard in an immigration court. Moreover, several of those arrested by ICE did not have an outstanding deportation order, according to the group.

Laura Lichter, a Denver-based volunteer for the project and general counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), said the root of the problem is that the Obama administration has treated the influx of Central American women and children as a matter of illegal immigration rather than a humanitarian crisis.

By Ted Hesson for VICE
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