White House defends deportations after
Send a link to a friend
[May 14, 2016]
By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on
Friday defended its deportation policy after complaints from Democratic
presidential candidates and congressional leaders that a sweep targeting
Central American illegal immigrants is inhumane.
Officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE)
Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) are shown during an operation
targeting criminal aliens and other immigration violators in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States in this image released May 11,
2016. Courtesy ICE/Handout via REUTERS
Reuters reported on Thursday that U.S. immigration officials plan
a month-long series of raids in May and June to deport hundreds of
Central American mothers and children found to have entered the
White House spokesman Josh Earnest acknowledged that the deportation
operations were consistent with President Barack Obama's policy to
focus on deporting criminals and recent immigrants who crossed the
U.S. border illegally after Jan. 1, 2014.
"No one is removed if they have an ongoing, pending claim or appeal
for asylum or some other form of humanitarian relief," Earnest told
reporters at a briefing.
"If this serves to discourage people from considering to make this
journey, that would be a good thing," Earnest said.
In 2014, a wave of children fleeing violence in Honduras, El
Salvador and Guatemala surged across the U.S. border, inflaming the
debate over how to deal with the more than 11 million undocumented
immigrants living in the United States.
The planned new raids are in response to a renewed surge of illegal
entries by Central American women traveling with their children.
In January, immigration officers rounded up 121 people, mostly women
and children, in three states. That sparked criticism from Democrats
running to replace Obama in the Nov. 8 presidential elections.
On Thursday, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton
reiterated her concerns about the new plans.
"I'm against large-scale raids that tear families apart and sow fear
in communities," Clinton said.
[to top of second column]
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders said he
opposed "the painful and inhumane business of locking up and
deporting families" trying to escape violence in other countries.
In Congress, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid called on Obama to
reconsider the plans and focus on addressing the instability in
Democratic representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, a critic of
the Obama administrationís deportation policies, complained the
administration was leaking word of the deportations to scare people
away from coming to the United States.
"The last time they did this, people called my office about raids
that were not existent because it creates panic, it creates fear,
it's terrible, it's a terrible way to bring about policy on this
issue," Gutierrez told reporters.
"Stop talking about them as illegal immigrants. They are asylum
seekers," he said.
(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan; Editing by
Chris Reese and Andrew Hay)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.