'Beyond Shameful': Democratic Lawmakers Join Communities in Denouncing Obama's Immigration Raids

President Barack Obama’s “holiday raids” targeting refugees from predominantly Central American countries have provoked outrage—and terror—among asylum-seekers and their loved ones, as well as condemnation from a handful of Democratic lawmakers.

Critics note that the harsh actions of the president, referred to by many as the “Deporter-In-Chief,” come amidst hate speech prevalent in the 2016 election cycle.

“For seven years, the Obama Administration has never missed an opportunity to move its immigration policy to the right to win a few political points,” Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, said in a statement released this week. “Now, as Trump’s racist discourse becomes normalized in U.S. politics, the Obama administration chooses to double down on its shameful deportation policy.”

“The sad truth is that President Obama’s actions are more vile than Trump’s words,” Alvarado added. “Trump stigmatizes people with his dehumanizing language; President Obama deports them.”

Announced just before Christmas, the mass deportations could impact up to 15,000 people. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), at least 121 families and children who lost their asylum cases were detained over the weekend, mainly in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. Alejandro Caceres, family detention organizer at Grassroots Leadership, told Common Dreams that sweeps have also been reported in Baltimore and New York.

Meanwhile, reports are emerging that those captured are being denied the most basic due process.

The CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project reported on Wednesday that it has “succeeded in halting the deportation of four Central American families apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over the weekend.”

“The raids by the Obama Administration on families from Central America must stop. They are a cruel reminder of a discredited policy.”
—Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)

“Our interviews revealed that these families have bona fide asylum claims, but were deprived of a meaningful opportunity to present them at their hearings in immigration court,” said Katie Shepherd, managing attorney for the Project. “It’s beyond shameful that these families, who risked everything to seek protection in the United States, were being forcibly returned to the violence and turmoil they fled in Central America.”

Some lawmakers this week vocalized their opposition to the aggressive sweeps.

“The raids by the Obama Administration on families from Central America must stop,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) in a statement released on Monday. “They are a cruel reminder of a discredited policy.”