President Obama once said this about his administration’s deportation priorities: “We’ll keep focusing enforcement resources on actual threats to our security. That means felons, not families. That means criminals, not children. It means gang members, not moms who are trying to put food on the table for their kids.”
Encouraging words, a year ago. But a new year has dawned upon an appalling campaign of home raids by the Department of Homeland Security to find and deport hundreds of would-be refugees back to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The targets are those who arrived in a recent surge of people fleeing shockingly high levels of gang and drug violence, hunger and poverty and who offered themselves at the border to the mercy of the United States, but ultimately lost their cases in immigration court.
Since New Year’s, the administration has been sending agents into homes to make an example of the offenders and to defend the principle of a secure border. A president who spoke so movingly about the violent gun deaths of children here has taken on the job of sending mothers and children on one-way trips to the deadliest countries in our hemisphere. Mothers and children who pose no threat, actual or imaginable, to our security.
The Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, said in a statement: “Our borders are not open to illegal migration. If you come here illegally, we will send you back consistent with our laws and values.” He added: “This should come as no surprise. I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities, including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed.”