The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) has begun a series of raids this month aimed at deporting Central American families, sparking protest by activists throughout the country.

So far, ICE raids have been reported in California, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. ICE has detained at least 121 undocumented immigrants since the raids started this month. The agency is focusing on families – mostly women and children – who currently have deportation orders.

According to Vox, since 2014, about 100,000 families have migrated from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to the United States. Most of these families are seeking asylum, fleeing increased violence in their home countries. The ICE raids are targeting families who have been denied asylum, but who have not returned to their home countries, many because of continued fear.

Immigration advocates have strongly condemned the raids, and activists have protested in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Florida, Oregon, California, and Washington, DC. A protest is planned for today in New York City.

J.J. Mulligan, an immigration lawyer for Atlas: DIY in New York explained the fear and confusion he has been hearing from concerned families since the raids started. In an interview with NPR, Mulligan said, “The government’s showing up in the middle of the night at your home, pounding on the door. I mean, that’s terrifying. These are people who have lived in the shadows. And that’s like their biggest fear realized.”

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) President Victor Nieblas Pradis called the raids, “unconscionable and inherently wrong.” He continued, “Rounding up mothers and children who have fled the most violent region in the western hemisphere and are trying to find refuge abrogates our legal obligations to provide protection to refugees. The Obama Administration should be ashamed of these actions and immediately suspend them.”

Many immigration advocacy groups such as United We Dream, The Immigrant Defense Project and others have been working around the clock since New Year’s Day to provide legal assistance to those who are being targeted by the raids.

Media Resources: Democracy Now 1/8/16; American Immigration Lawyers Association Press Release 1/6/16; USA Today 1/4/16; Vox 1/4/16; Immigration Defense Project 1/4/16; NPR 1/6/16;

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