The (Empty) Promise of Protection: CGRS Condemns Raids on Women and Children

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) condemns the Obama Administration’s plans to begin a 30-day surge of arrests and deportations of hundreds of women and children. Many of these women and children have come to the United States to escape persecution in Central America and elsewhere. The Administration’s continued focus on deporting women and children is especially troubling given that many are fleeing gender-based and sexual violence by gangs or even their own family members. The military style raids will likely re-traumatize those who have come to the United States seeking refuge from abuse they have experienced in their home countries. By deporting families back to unstable and violent environments, the U.S. government may be sending some women and children to the violence they fled or, at worst, their deaths.

CGRS is deeply concerned that women and children may be deported without being given a fair chance to make claims for relief. The Obama Administration plans to target individuals who have already been issued a deportation order by an immigration court. However, many immigrants who end up with deportation orders have never had access to legal counsel who could have helped them navigate the complex U.S. immigration system and better understand what claims are available to them. As studies show, without counsel it would have been highly difficult for the women and children targeted in these raids to make successful claims for asylum or obtain other forms of relief that would allow them to stay. Last January, the Administration attempted a similar deportation sweep over two days that resulted in the detention of 121 people, mostly women and children, that illustrates the folly of this program. Thirty-three of those detained were eventually awarded temporary stays of removal and released. If past is prologue, the targets of this latest round of raids will actually qualify for relief.

The rise in border crossings by women and children in the past year suggests that this group remains especially vulnerable in the Central American countries from which they have fled and, moreover, that harsh enforcement tactics do not deter people fearing for their lives. Our nation’s resources would be better spent addressing the root causes of violence to save lives and promote long-term stability in the region. People who come to the United States fleeing violence deserve a fair and humane chance at having their claims heard. Before these women and children are deported, they must be given a chance to access legal counsel and present their claims for asylum and other humanitarian protections.

CGRS joins the chorus of condemnation for the Administration’s planned raids. See what other organizations are saying:

Also see statements made by leading Democrats, including presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie SandersSenate minority whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), denouncing the raids.

If you are at risk, Know Your Rights! Those concerned they might be targeted for deportation should consult the ACLU’s latest Know Your Rights video focused on what to do if ICE agents come to your door.

Oppose the Administration summary deportations of women and children? Take Action! We urge all to take action by participating in this call-in effortsharing this urgent tweet, and sending this advocacy letter asking President Obama to NOT move forward with the raids and deportations of Central American families and children.

We also encourage you to sign this petition, calling on the government to stop the deportation of the G.S. family, a mother and her 12-year old daughter who fled El Salvador after the mother was subjected to multiple gang rapes and the daughter was threatened by gangs.