The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took 121 individuals into custody over the weekend as part of a coordinated effort to remove illegal aliens who recently came to the U.S. from Central America, and DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson claims more raids will occur.
The “concerted, nationwide enforcement operations” became the source of controversy last month after The Washington Post reported that DHS was planning raids across the nation to remove illegal aliens who had come to the U.S. from Central America.
Immigration activists who see the Central American surge as a humanitarian crisis expressed concern that the illegal aliens had not received due process and that some would be improperly removed.
Vermont Sen. [crscore]Bernie Sanders[/crscore] condemned the planned effort — which was the first to focus solely on the Central American surge. And the Clinton campaign released a statement saying that the candidate had “real concerns” with the plan. (RELATED: Hillary Says She’s ‘Concerned’ With Plan To Deport Central American Families)
Johnson said in his statement that the focus of the weekend operations were adults and their children who illegally crossed the border after May 1, 2014, those who had been ordered removed by an immigration court, and those who had exhausted all legal remedies to remain in the U.S.
“As part of these operations, 121 individuals were taken into custody, primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, and they are now in the process of being repatriated,” said Johnson, who claimed in his statement that Central American illegal aliens have been repatriated “at an increased rate” since the summer of 2014.
Johnson also said that during the course of the weekend operations, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “exercised prosecutorial discretion” in a number of cases for health and personal reasons.
The repatriated illegal aliens were first transported to a family residential center maintained by ICE. From there, they will be processed and issued travel documents before being flown back to their home countries.
Some proponents of stricter immigration policies see DHS’ action as too-little-too-late. As Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian asserted, the weekend round-up constituted just “14 hours’ worth of border flow.”
That's only about 14 hours' worth of the border flow of new Cent.Amer adult illegals w/kids. 100X more might work. https://t.co/dfwKhbLSo6
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) January 4, 2016
More than 100,000 adults and their children have illegally entered the U.S. from Central America since last year.
Johnson claimed in his statement that DHS plans more concerted removals.
“At my direction, additional enforcement operations such as these will continue to occur as appropriate,” he said, while acknowledging critics from both sides of the issue.
“I know there are many who loudly condemn our enforcement efforts as far too harsh, while there will be others who say these actions don’t go far enough,” Johnson said. “I also recognize the reality of the pain that deportations do in fact cause. But, we must enforce the law consistent with our priorities. At all times, we endeavor to do this consistent with American values, and basic principles of decency, fairness, and humanity.”