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Photo courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [SOURCE: Wiki Images]

BY ISN STAFFJanuary 4, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United Sates has issued a statement denouncing the Obama Administration’s decision to conduct nationwide raids in order to deport Central Americans seeking refugee and asylum status in the U.S. “We are especially disturbed by reports of immigration officials forcibly entering residences in Georgia and Texas over the last several days to conduct invasive searches and round-ups of Central American asylum seekers,” said the statement published by the Jesuit Conference’s Advocacy office today.

Noting the work of Jesuits throughout Central America, Fr. William Kelley, S.J., secretary for social and international ministry at the Jesuit Conference, described the situation in the region as a “tragic unraveling of respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law.” He called for the “root causes” of forced displacement to be addressed noting that the circumstances of the region “drive people to flee for their lives.”

The full statement can be read here:

Jesuit Conference Calls for an End to Immigration Raids Targeting Central Americans

The Jesuit Conference denounces the Obama Administration’s decision to conduct nationwide raids on people who have fled Central America seeking protection over the last year. On the eve of the Christmas holiday, media outlets reported the Administration’s plan to round up and deport Central American families and adult asylum seekers, despite the fact that the Northern Triangle of Central America is undergoing a human rights crisis that has resulted in the forced migration of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran citizens.

The President is risking his legacy in conducting these immigration raids – the style and scope of which we have not seen in the last decade. We are especially disturbed by reports of immigration officials forcibly entering residences in Georgia and Texas over the last several days to conduct invasive searches and roundups of Central American asylum seekers, including children as young as four. Such tactics sow fear in immigrant communities, create distrust between these communities and law enforcement officials, and traumatize children and adult asylum seekers who survived persecution and perilous journeys to find protection in the United States.

A January 4, 2016 statement by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson offered a particularly disturbing insight into the motivations behind these raids. The Secretary described the roundups as part of a strategy meant to deter further migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America – a region composed of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – which is currently undergoing political upheaval and human rights violations at levels not seen since the civil wars of the 1980s. Additional components of the DHS strategy include an appeal of the federal court ruling ordering the release of children, including toddlers and infants from detention centers, and continuing support of Mexico’s immigration crackdown. We note that the Administration’s cooperation with Mexico, particularly in light of the lack of adequate screenings for people with protection concerns, and Mexico’s summary detention and deportation of Central American asylum seekers, is inconsistent with the U.S. commitment to ensuring people fleeing persecution and torture are not returned to the arms of their persecutors and torturers.

“The work of our brother Jesuits and of Jesuit institutions in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala has allowed us to witness firsthand the tragic unraveling of respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law in the region. As the Jesuit Conference has documented, certain Northern Triangle citizens are particularly targeted by violent armed groups that wield enormous power in these three countries. Often, — more — children and adults who live in areas controlled by street gangs find themselves caught between gang members and militarized, often brutal, police. Rural indigenous and Afro-descendant populations are also being forced from their lands, and corruption among elites has resulted in rampant levels of inequality and poverty. These are the factors that drive people to flee for their lives. These problems cannot be addressed through irresponsible and insensitive immigration tactics. Rather the root causes of the forced displacement must be addressed,” said Fr. William Kelley, SJ, Secretary for Social and International Ministry at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.

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  1. […] hope that Christians can rally and demand a compassionate end to this family violence. Their lives are in danger and we can […]

  2. […] this week the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States released a statement calling for the end of these raids and ISN and Jesuit Refugee Service USA joined other NGO’s […]

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