Washington D.C. (Link) – Congressman Adam Smith issued the following statement on the recent raids conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeting families from South and Central America:
“I am extremely disturbed by recent accounts of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions in several states that are specifically targeting undocumented women and children from South and Central America. It has been reported that these raids have already resulted in the detention of 121 individuals, including in many cases, individuals who were not originally the focus of targeted enforcement actions. Today, I sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson to raise my serious concerns about these activities and to call for additional information to be made public about the agency’s actions.
“I am particularly troubled that in carrying out sweeping new enforcement activity, individuals may not be fully afforded their rights to due process. Many of the families who are the reported targets of ongoing ICE enforcement came to the United States after fleeing extreme violence in their home countries. Many may now be returned to extraordinarily dangerous situations without being afforded all opportunities to seek asylum in the United States. These families, particularly children, are a vulnerable population and must be afforded the guarantee of access to all avenues in our judicial and immigration systems.
“Additionally, I am extremely alarmed and frustrated by the lack of transparency about ICE’s actions and the poor communication between ICE, DHS, and Congress. ICE and DHS have fallen far short of being forthcoming with the public, affected communities, and Congress about the policy objectives and impacts of these enforcement activities, or whether those targeted by the raids have had full access to legal options. American values demand that we afford due process and legal protections in all circumstances.
“These DHS and ICE actions, and the resulting deportations are just the latest example of the very serious need to reform our nation’s immigration system. We cannot afford to wait any longer and I remain committed to and focused on enacting comprehensive immigration reform so that families can remain together and our nation is kept safe.”