Groups Decry Obama’s Plans to Quickly Deport Children

July 3, 2014

Adela de la Torre, 213-400-7822, [email protected]

National Immigration Law Center and Human Rights Groups Tell President to Abandon Efforts to Expedite Deportations of Children Fleeing Violence

WASHINGTON — President Obama should reconsider his plans to quickly deport Central American children who have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border seeking safety, and should instead properly screen the children for trafficking and persecution, and extend humanitarian protections, according to a letter sent to the president Thursday by almost 200 immigration, civil and human rights, faith, labor, and community groups.

In the letter to the president, organizations including the National Immigration Law Center faulted the White House proposal for being focused on deterring migration instead of protecting children. “The proposed plan would appear to place at risk … existing legal protections, jeopardizing the lives of children seeking safety in the United States,” the groups wrote.

The president is expected to formally request expanded authority from Congress next week, along with $2 billion in emergency funding, allowing the administration to place Central American children in expedited removal proceedings. About 52,000 children traveling alone and 39,000 adults with children have been stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border since October.

“Congress must reject the administration’s plans to almost precipitously deport children without giving them a fair day in court and meaningful due process,” said Marielena Hincapié, NILC executive director.

“The politics of fear in the immigration debate is always uncalled for, but especially when we are talking about deporting children who deserve our protection. Ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our society are cared for isn’t a matter of sound policy or politics — it’s simply the right thing to do.Furthermore, treating those fleeing persecution or violence with dignity is simply the traditional American way,” Hincapié added.

NILC has previously secured nationwide permanent injunctions to ensure basic protections for detained immigrants.

President Obama’s plan undermines the “rights and safety” of the children, opponents stated in the letter urging President Obama to reverse his policy.

The groups noted that removal of the children through a nonjudicial process circumvents protections in the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008.

“Instead of affording these children proper screening for trafficking and persecution, as well as the opportunity to receive fair and full consideration of their legal claims before an immigration judge, the administration appears to propose to quickly deport them, without access to legal counsel,” according to the letter.

Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center is the only advocacy organization in the United States exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. NILC advances its mission through policy analysis and litigation, along with education and advocacy. Over the past three decades, NILC has won landmark legal decisions protecting fundamental rights, thwarted policies that would have devastated the lives of low-income immigrants and their family members, and advanced major policies that reinforce our nation’s values of equality, opportunity, and justice for all.

To read the letter, click here.

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