Bernie Sanders lashed out at the Obama administration on Christmas Eve over its plan to conduct large-scale deportation raids and return undocumented immigrants to their home countries early next year.
“I am very disturbed by reports that the government may commence raids to deport families who have fled here to escape violence in Central America,” Sanders, the independent Vermont senator, said in a statement.
“We who are parents should ask ourselves what we would do if our children faced the danger and violence these children do?”
“As we spend time with our families this holiday season,” he added, “we who are parents should ask ourselves what we would do if our children faced the danger and violence these children do? How far would we go to protect them?”
The Department of Homeland Security has begun preparing for a series of nationwide deportation raids targeting people who entered the country illegally over the past year, according to the Washington Post. A source familiar with the plan told the paper that it was “the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence in Central America.”
The raids, which reportedly remain controversial within the White House and have not yet received the president’s approval, will be led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
“Our nation has always been a beacon of hope, a refugee for the oppressed,” Sanders said Thursday. “We cannot turn our backs on that essential element of who we are as a nation. We need to take steps to protect children and families seeking refuge here, not cast them out.”
I do not want to be liked by everybody. There comes a time when you have to take on the establishment and not be part of that establishment.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 23, 2015
Murder rates in many Central and South America countries are among the highest in the world. Honduras and Venezuela are world’s the most deadly countries, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. If the U.S. government expels undocumented immigrants who came from these countries, many of them could face immediate threats to their lives.
In October, the Guardian reported that several U.S. deportees were killed after American customs agents returned them to the Central American countries from which they fled. Some of them were killed within days of their return.
An academic study cited in the Guardian report identified as many as 83 deportees murdered after their return to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras since January 2014.
Photo via Michael Vadon/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)