The Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC) – A California collective of undocumented youth and community members – denounce the Obama Administration’s announcement in May 2016 that it will be conducting a new wave of raids. With these new raids, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will target Central American refugees with final orders of removal in a month-long series of raids that will sweep the country between the months of May and June.
For the immigrant community this is unacceptable. Refugees from Central America deserve protection, not raids and deportations. As various reports have documented, the deportation of Central American refugees is tantamount to a death sentence. Deportations do nothing to address the root problem of this humanitarian crisis. The violence that plagues Central America is directly linked to the United States’ foreign policy. Decades of military and economic intervention in Central America, coupled with the U.S.’s deportation policies, created the conditions for the gangs and violence that has displaced tens of thousands of people in those countries. We must be unequivocal: the U.S. is responsible; raids are not the answer; raids and deportations are the problem!
The act of announcing the raids publicly to the the media has the added effect of placing immigrant communities across the country in a state of terror. More people will now be subject to abuses from ICE – an agency known for its human rights’ violations.
To us, the announcement by the Obama Administration is not new (or surprising). We have been here before. Similar ICE raids were announced in late December 2015. These raids resulted in 121 individuals being swept by ICE. Various of these deportations were halted because of a combination of community mobilizations and a series of lawsuits that demonstrated that the prior removal orders violated due process.
On January 26, 2016, IYC along with other organizations and community members stood up against these raids and shut down ICE through acts of civil disobedience. Similar actions hit ICE across the country, from New York City to Chicago to Minneapolis. As IYC we demanded: ICE out of CA, free legal representation to all refugees, address the root causes of displacement in Central America, and stop all the raids, detentions, and deportations (please see below for list and description of demands).
As we have demonstrated time and again, we can (and must) fight these raids. As ICE prepares for new raids, IYC will continue to build immigrant power in our communities until all the raids, detentions, and deportations seize. While we focus our fight to end the raids targeting Central American refugees, we must keep in mind that normal ICE operations are ongoing and equally destructive to our community. Even before these raid announcements, ICE has sought to implement the Priorities Enforcement Program (PEP-Comm) in localities across the country – an enforcement program initiated the same day DAPA was announced on November 20, 2014. Under PEP-Comm, the following people are priority for detention and deportation: refugees who arrived in the United States after January 1, 2014, individuals with criminal charges like DUIs, and people with prior deportation orders.
We reject PEP and the raids targeting anyone in our community. Such tactics only leave broken communities and do nothing to address the real need to build safe and healthy communities. More importantly, they fail to address the root cause of the problem: U.S. foreign policy. We welcome all who struggle for the unconditional liberation of our people.
To report any ICE activity in California please contact the Rapid Response Network Hotline: 1-844-878-7801.
En la lucha,
The Immigrant Youth Coalition
The Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC) is an undocumented and Queer/Trans youth led organization based in California. Our mission is to mobilize youth, families and incarcerated people to end the criminalization of immigrants and people of color. Through story based strategies, IYC aims to build radical consciousness by centering around the most directly impacted people. We organize to create social change that confronts the interlocking systems of oppression.
— We Demand ICE to Release:
Martha, Honduran Mother Survivor of Domestic Violence and Asylum Seeker, currently detained in Adelanto Detention Center! Sign the petition: bit.ly/FreeMartha
Mauricio, Asylum Seeker from Guatemala and Father to be reunited with his partner Yoselin and 2-year old daughter Alice and prevent him from being deported to his death! Sign the petition: bit.ly/FreeMauricio
Statement from January 2016 JANUARY 12th, 2016—We, as Central American organizations and allies who have collectively worked closely with hundreds of Central American refugee mothers, children, and families since January 2014, including the mothers who went on hunger strike in 2015 at Karnes Detention Center to demand their own freedom, call on the Obama Administration to meet the following demands immediately:
HALT THE INHUMANE DEPORTATION OF REFUGEE FAMILIES: Stop the raids carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) across the country to deport refugee families, and stop re-incarcerating refugee families in private, for-profit detention centers. These raids and the incarceration of families in detention centers are inhumane, immoral, a violation of the human rights of these families, and are causing more harm and irreparable trauma. We once again strongly urge the Obama Administration to uphold the Flores Settlement of 1997, which sets standards for the detention of minors with which the current government practice does not comply.
RECOGNIZE CENTRAL AMERICAN ASYLUM SEEKERS AS REFUGEES AND THE ROOT CAUSES OF THE CRISIS: Stop denying Central American asylum seekers refugee status, and protect these families in accordance with Article 31 of the 1951 Refugee Convention, an international law widely accepted around the world that clearly states that refugees cannot be sent back to a country where they will be persecuted. The denial of refugee status to these families is a clear violation of the general spirit of the document, which seeks to protect families and individuals who face extreme peril in their home countries. Although there is no question that many Central American asylum seekers’ lives are in danger, U.S. law specifically denies asylum to Central Americans where it would grant protection to those from other countries facing similar, or identical, threats to their lives or freedom. Without access to counsel, these vulnerable refugees have little chance of navigating the complex – and political – case law governing Central American asylum claims. Since 2014, at least 83 individuals deported back to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have been murdered upon their return, all of whom passed their credible fear interviews but were ultimately denied refugee status. We openly denounce this decades-old tactic of discriminating against and denying Central Americans refugee status, and demand that the Obama Administration do everything in its power to revert it, including by providing access to counsel for families fleeing persecution.
PROVIDE DEPORTATION RELIEF FOR PEOPLE WITH PENDING ASYLUM CASES: As we work to uphold due process for refugee families, we also demand that the Obama Administration provide immediate protection from deportation through relief similar, but not limited to, Temporary Protection Status (TPS). We say “not limited to” TPS because we recognize that TPS as a policy has been problematic, in that it has created a permanent underclass of recipients living in the U.S. for almost 20 years with limited legal status, where they are not able to petition for family members, including their children, do not have a path to citizenship and full civic participation, and are not recognized as valuable members of U.S. society despite their consistent contributions to our community. Although we do not want to make the same mistakes in offering temporary protection to newly-arrived refugees, we must protect families from deportation while we work to make the asylum system more just.
SUPPORT EFFORTS AND RESOURCES TO HEAL REFUGEE TRAUMA: Support any and all efforts to address this human rights crisis through a holistic approach that encourages healing and social integration of children and families. Allocation of funding and resources beyond legal representation is imperative. This includes, but is not limited to, mental health services, access to education, family support counseling, and other necessary social services essential to stabilizing children and their families, and to support their healthy and successful transition into U.S. society.
STOP THE CONTINUED CRIMINALIZATION OF CENTRAL AMERICANS: Stop the blatant criminalization of Central American refugee mothers, children, and families by calling them a “threat to national security” and deporting them in order to send a “deterrent” message to other Central American countries. Historically, this tactic has not worked and will not work until the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States are addressed, which includes acknowledging the U.S.’s central role in the creation of the violence and instability in the region that has led to this human rights crisis.
DEFUND BORDER MILITARIZATION IN CENTRAL AMERICA & MEXICO: Stop funding to Central America and Mexico for increased border militarization, including policies such as the Alliance for Prosperity of the Northern Triangle, a policy extension of CARSI (Central America Regional Security Initiative) which makes an outsized investment in increased border surveillance and police training at the expense of social development programs. The U.S. should discontinue funding of the Plan Frontera Sur, through which the U.S. government seeks to stem Central American migration by paying the Mexican government to deport refugees before they reach the U.S. From October 2014 to April 2015, Mexico deported 92,889 Central Americans, which is almost double the 49,893 it deported in the same period the year before. There is ample evidence that Mexico’s asylum policies violate refugees’ due process rights under the 1951 Refugee Convention, and that pro-militarization policies only increase human rights violations in the region without addressing the root causes of migration.