The Obama White House is working frantically to quell the political outrage among immigration rights advocates and Latino leaders who say they feel betrayed by a recent series of deportation raids launched by the administration against mostly women and children from Central America.
While the raids continue with administration support, White House aides announced an expanded State Department partnership with the United Nations to resettle Central American refugees in the United States and elsewhere, and Vice President Joe Biden traveled to the region last week to meet with the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
“The goal of this effort is to provide a safe and legal alternative to the dangerous journey many are currently taking in the hands of human smugglers,” White House spokesman Peter Boogaard said. “Expanding resettlement opportunities is a key part of our broader response to the situation” in the three nations.
The administration’s decision to launch the raids has reopened old wounds between the White House and many Latino communities, and it has compromised the president’s efforts to create an election-year contrast with Republicans on immigration.
U.S. officials said the operations are aimed at sending a strong message of deterrence to Central American families and avoiding a repeat of the 2014 border crisis when an influx of tens of thousands of migrants from the region overwhelmed patrol stations on the Southwest border.
But growing blowback from congressional Democrats and advocacy groups has put the White House on the defensive just 14 months after President Barack Obama sought to repair strained relations with Latino voters by taking unilateral steps to ease the deportation threat for those with deep ties to the United States.
By Evan Vucci for The Dallas Morning News
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