Maria Inés Taracena
Many of Guatemala's indigenous children are forced to drop out of school and begin to work to help provide for their families with an "income" that sometimes averages way less than $1 a day. They are pressured into informal economies like selling crafts and candy bars to wealthier locals and tourists. Here, a boy rests in the small town of Panajachel, Solola, in the highlands of Guatemala.
As soon as early January, Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be carrying out a series of raids to deport hundreds of Central American families who hoped to get asylum in the U.S., but whose applications were denied by immigration courts.
As we get ready to begin a new year, this sends a disturbing and very sad message that, clearly, next year won't be more compassionate than the previous one.
According to The Washington Post
, which was the first publication to report DHS' upcoming plans, this is the first "large-scale" effort against the mass migration of mostly women, children and youth from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that was labeled a humanitarian crisis in 2014. In the past year, "More than 100,000 families with both adults and children have made the journey across the southwest border since last year, though this migration has largely been overshadowed by a related surge of unaccompanied minors," the Post writes.
The ICE operation would target only adults and children who have already been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge, according to officials familiar with the undertaking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because planning is ongoing and the operation has not been given final approval by DHS. The adults and children would be detained wherever they can be found and immediately deported. The number targeted is expected to be in the hundreds and possibly greater.
Several churches around the country
, involved in the Sanctuary Movement, including Tucson's Southside Presbyterian Church, announced on Friday that they are prepared to open their doors to any of these undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation and continue fighting their case. "As pastors we know that each and every family is a holy family," Southside's the Rev. Alison Harrington told Reuters
. "We open our doors to today's Josephs and Marys. ... The gift we have to offer on Christmas Day is the gift of sanctuary."
But the Los Angeles Times' Editorial Board says
that, while they too share the same concerns for these children and women, the Obama Administration is doing the right thing.
Immigration rights advocates have begun rallying in opposition, arguing that it is inhumane for the government to send back to Central America—the source of many of these cases—people who have fled violence and crime-ridden neighborhoods for a chance at a better future for themselves and their children.
It's hard to argue with that logic, but it is based on a flawed premise. To not deport those whom an immigration judge has ruled ineligible to remain in the country is to throw over any notion of enforceable immigration law. And that is an indefensible position.
The government has both the right and the responsibility to determine who gets to enter the country, and who gets to stay as legal residents.
Legally, that's true.
But where is the moral responsibility of the U.S.? Central America is an area that's been heavily influenced by this country both economically and politically—interventions that have played a role in the disturbing high numbers of people migrating from that region to American soil. (The book "Open Veins of Latin America"
by Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano may be helpful at this point.)