While both remaining Democratic presidential candidates have condemned the Obama administration’s recent immigration enforcement operations, Politico reports immigration advocates are speculating that the effort to crack down on illegal immigrant families and minors could weaken Latino support for Democrats at the polls come November.
“People are fatigued and outraged about the raids, and just when things should be turning to creating clean lines between the candidates, the Obama administration is dampening enthusiasm,” Cristina Jimenez, the co-founder and managing director of the immigration activist group United We Dream, tells Politico.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration embarked on an extremely limited effort to remove dozens (out of the tens of thousands) of Central American migrants who entered the U.S. illegally in recent years. The operation sparked a backlash from immigrant activists but failed to deter the near-record breaking surge of family units and unaccompanied minors illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Reports indicate the Department of Homeland Security is working on a follow-up deportation effort this month and next with a 30-day arrest “surge” to detain families and “unaccompanied minors” who have already received final removal orders but remain in the U.S.
As Politico reports, the news is not sitting well with amnesty advocates who believe the Central American migrants are fleeing violence in their home countries and should be allowed to remain in the U.S.
“It defies political logic that the administration would do anything to weaken Hispanic support for the Democratic nominee,” Kevin Appleby, the international migration policy director for the Center for Migration Studies, told Politico.
Beyond the optics of a Democratic administration conducting raids against illegal immigrant families, Politico reports that the practical effect of raids make reaching Latino voters more difficult — namely that immigrant households are more fearful of opening their doors to unexpected guests.
“There is a hope that at the very least, people will come out and vote against [Donald] Trump,” Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center’s Immigrant Justice Fund, told Politico. “One of the questions and concerns is, does the fear and confusion of the raids result in suppressing the vote so much that people are unsure about coming forward?”
And while there is speculation about the potential harm, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) indicated such an outcome would be unlikely to minimal.
“There is always the concern that what this administration does could potentially affect participation and turnout,” Sanchez (D-CA) told Politico. “But I think if it does, I think it would be very minimal.”