Op-Ed: The Deporter-In-Chief Strikes Again
It could’ve been funny if its consequences were not so tragic. Barack Obama, the President that has broken all deportation records, deems himself a champion of immigration.
"I am the champion in chief of comprehensive immigration reform," he declared in 2014. The President is either in denial or is much more of a cynic than anybody could suspect.
Not happy with having deported more than 2.5 million people since winning the Presidency in 2009, he is celebrating his final months in office by making sure the title of deporter in chief he so richly deserves will be his for many years to come.
With a lack of compassion worthy of Donald Trump, ICE is about to launch a new wave of deportations, not of criminals or terrorists, mind you, but of the most vulnerable of all immigrants: The women and children who escaped the violence and horror of their Central American countries and are seeking asylum in the U.S.
Since 2013, the Obama administration has ordered the deportation of more than 7,000 Central American children without a court hearing. Yet, it’s not enough. The new month-long round of raids is scheduled to happen in May and June, specifically targeting mothers and children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The new operation comes on the heels of a similar one conducted in January, that focused on Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. Reactions have been swift and sharp.
“These announced raids are another deplorable example of the Obama Administration’s Jekyll-and-Hyde immigration enforcement policies,” stated Thomas A. Saenz, National Hispanic Leadership Agenda vice chair.
Even Hillary Clinton, who previously had come out in favor of sending the children back has condemned the plan. "Families fleeing violence in Central America must be given a full opportunity to seek relief. And we need to take special care of children," she said.
Bernie Sanders, her rival for the presidential nomination, issued a statement consistent with what has been his position all along. “I oppose the painful and inhumane business of locking up and deporting families who have fled horrendous violence in Central America and other countries," Sanders said. "Sending these people back into harm’s way is wrong.”
Not only is it wrong, it is also hypocritical and cruel. The terrible insecurity and hopelessness that ravages El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala is, in large measure, the product of the uncontrolled violence created by this country’s insatiable appetite for illegal drugs. This is what causes people to embark on their do-or-die journey to the North.
These women and children do not come in search of an illusory "American dream," but to escape poverty and desperation, drug traffickers’ violence and murderous gangs, which have displaced an entire generation. They come to save their lives and deserve all the rights and protections afforded to refugees and asylum seekers.
Deportations will not stop the flood of families. This will only happen when the opportunity to survive and develop their potential exists in their own countries. The only effective - and just - solution is to invest the billions of dollars now spent on repression, to create conditions in Central America which would not oblige its people to flee at any cost.
After all this investment would be a modest "down payment" on the enormous debt they are owed, given Washington’s interventions and support of illegitimate, criminal governments.