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Immigration and Customs Enforcement targets families

Over the past two years, a large number of people from Central America have come to Florida and other parts of the United States. Many are families fleeing the gang violence that is tearing that region apart.

In response, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are planning a month of raids, beginning this month and extending into June. Their targets will be primarily mothers with young children. They will also be looking for young people who reached the age of 18 after coming to the U.S. They plan to detain those whose claims for asylum have been turned down

An ICE statement about the upcoming raids claims the agency's highest priorities are border security and public safety, and cited a 2014 announcement that they will focus on deporting convicted criminals and others who pose a threat to the public. The statement did not explain how targeting young mothers and their children will further this alleged goal.

Advocates for immigrant rights have been harshly critical of the administration's treatment of mothers and children trying to escape from gang violence. For those seeking asylum, a denial can mean deportation back to a violent and lawless region where they may already be the targets of death threats.

US immigration law can be confusing and its enforcement is often harsh. Enforcement actions like those outlined by ICE can destroy families. Many immigrant families live in daily fear of the knock on the door that can lead to deportation. Immigrants do have rights under US law, and it is critical to understand those rights.   

Source: NPR, "U.S. To Renew Effort To Deport Central American Immigrant Families," Laura Wagner, May 12, 2016

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