Updated 06:29 AM EST, Tue, Nov 24, 2020

US Begins Immigration Raids, Deportation & Arrests of Central American Asylum Seekers

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Immigration activists have criticized the weekend raids that apprehended 121 immigrants across the United States for deportation.

The Washington Post reported that immigration officials would begin taking into custody women and children from Central America. These immigrants have crossed the border in 2015 and had been given deportation orders from a judge.

According to the Guardian, pro-migrant groups said that the operation would force undocumented immigrants deeper underground and would ignite resentment towards President Barack Obama, who is frequently referred to as the "deporter-in-chief." The operation generally targeted Central Americans taking off from violence and who were refused U.S. asylum.

The Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson strongly defended the action in a statement: "As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal migration; if you come here illegally, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values."

Johnson said that majority of undocumented immigrants now in custody came from raids conducted in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, although the official separated them as part of "concerted, nationwide enforcement operations," the Guardian added.

Although a senior administration official acknowledged the controversial and inflammatory rhetoric against immigrants that has become prevalent in the 2016 presidential campaign trail, though the officer insisted that the raids had "nothing to do with the caterwaulings of any member of the political class," the news outlet noted. Instead, the official said, the operation is an answer to the surge of Central American families and unaccompanied children trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Abraham Espinosa of FIEL, an immigrant rights group based in Houston, said there was "a little bit of a panic" among migrants when news of the arrests surfaced before Christmas, the Guardian further reported.

"You never know where they could strike," Espinosa said of the immigration officers, as quoted in the Guardian's report, adding that many immigrants "don't even want to leave the house at this point."

The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights responded immediately when news of the action broke out, NBC News reported. To spread the word to immigrants, members used contacts in the community, social media, a hotline in position since 2007, and interviews with local Latino newspapers. The group also hurriedly made a video using an iPhone to inform immigrants of their rights if authorities paid them a visit.

According to Mohammad Abdollahi, a spokesman for Raices, an immigrant advocacy group based in Texas, many of the families detained is expected to be taken to the Dilley family detention center close to San Antonio, the Guardian wrote. Once there, they will be processed for deportation.

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