Whenever there is an injustice in a foreign country, the United States government is rarely silent.
We provide monetary aid, issue statements condemning these wrongs and in extreme cases use military force to assist the victims. One might wonder why in the face of yet another injustice, we are not condemning it but condoning it.
Keeping with the values behind executive actions and the understanding that our immigration system is broken, the Obama administration must put an end to these unnecessary raids and the deportation of refugee families.
- Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
Early in January, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began a series of raids with the ultimate goal of deporting hundreds of people, mostly families with children, to their countries of origin in Central America. These deportations are occurring despite the fact that many of these families face imminent danger, even death, if they are returned to Central American soil.
Children who fled to escape gang-ridden neighborhoods with homicide rates among the highest anywhere in the world will yet again face the choice of either joining a gang or endangering themselves and their families. Either way, their fates are doomed.
In El Salvador, for example, the murder rate jumped 70 percent in 2015, from 3,900 to 6,650 deaths. Honduras faces similar violent death rates, with a slight drop in 2015 from 2014, but still registering slightly over 5,000 violent deaths in one year.
After the President's executive actions many of us hoped that enforcement would be targeted at violent and dangerous criminals, not at families whose only crime is coming to the United States seeking a better life for their families. President Obama said that himself — we should deport felons, not families. Now it’s time for him to honor those words.
Keeping with the values behind executive actions and the understanding that our immigration system is broken, the Obama administration must put an end to these unnecessary raids and the deportation of refugee families. The consequences for not halting the raids will not only result in bloodshed for innocent victims, but may very well have repercussions on American soil as well.
As we look back at the accomplishments of this President, his legacy will be one of honor and historic consequence. There is no reason to tarnish that image with needless and cruel deportations.
More alarming, many organizations, like the Latino Victory Fund, are working to naturalize Latinos and register them to vote. But these raids are causing great fear, and many immigrants and New Americans may sit out full participation in our democracy.
That would be a shame, with needless loss of life and potentially disastrous implications for our political system.
Antonio Villaraigosa, former mayor of Los Angeles, is co-chair of the Latino Victory Fund.