The Obama administration conducted a series of deportation raids over the weekend, netting 121 illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as part of the recent surge at the U.S.- Mexico border.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the raids as part of the administration’s effort to tamp down on the already ballooning level of illegal migration from Central America at the border.
“This past weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) engaged in concerted, nationwide enforcement operations to take into custody and return at a greater rate adults who entered this country illegally with children. 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,” Johnson said in a statement.
According to Johnson the raids were conducted over the weekend largely in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina. They focused on adults and their children who crossed the border illegally after May 2014 and have been issued final orders of removal and have no outstanding claims for immigration relief.
Johnson added that due “sensitive nature of taking into custody and removing families with children” the agency took additional precautions including deploying female agents and medical personnel in the raids. As well as “in the course of the operations, ICE exercised prosecutorial discretion in a number of cases for health or other personal reasons.”
While DHS has started to execute removal orders, the number of unaccompanied minors and family units who arrived in the U.S. over the past several years is substantial. Nearly 240,000 unaccompanied minors and family unit members have been apprehended illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border from FY 2014 though November 2015.
An ICE spokesperson told Breitbart News that the agency is currently unable to provide a breakdown of the border surge migrants who have been deported after entered the U.S. illegally since FY 2014.
In addition to the removal efforts, Johnson noted that the agency is also increasing border security efforts by deploying more permanent agents and surveillance to the border, “cracking down” on human smuggling operations, working with Mexico, and funneling $750 million in aid to Central America to help stem the migration northward.
The Obama administration’s enforcement effort has come under fire from immigration activists who claim the effort is unfair and targets vulnerable Central Americans fleeing their home counties.
“I know there are many who loudly condemn our enforcement efforts as far too harsh, while there will be others who say these actions don’t go far enough. I also recognize the reality of the pain that deportations do in fact cause. But, we must enforce the law consistent with our priorities. At all times, we endeavor to do this consistent with American values, and basic principles of decency, fairness, and humanity,” Johnson said.