On December 24, 2015, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its plans to begin nationwide raids aimed at undocumented adults and children beginning on January 1, 2016. My office was closed that day in observance of the holidays. Returning to work the following Monday, our phones were ringing off the hook. People were calling asking if their families were going be snatched away and deported – many barricaded themselves in their homes as erroneous rumors of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers picking people up off the streets and accounts of friends being apprehended while shopping at grocery stores spread faster than wild fire.
Anyone with a family would have been troubled by these stories. But the most disturbing realization was that while we were enjoying a carefree break with our families, so many others were terrified of being separated from their love ones.
While there is a need to keep our country safe from those who would do us harm, the innocent mothers and children targeted by this year’s enforcement raids are not a threat to our national security. In fact, the vast majority come to our country seeking refuge and protection. The recent surge of migrants across our southern border is a direct result of the cartel violence and extreme poverty plaguing countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The problems facing these countries are complex and many may argue that the United States has played a role in the major challenges confronting them.
Given the resources, ingenuity, and historical compassion of our country towards those fleeing oppression, shouldn’t we be able to devise a more humanitarian solution? Perhaps it is time we expand our refugee and asylum laws to include persons fleeing cartel related violence? Another alternative would be to offer temporary protective Status (TPS) to persons whose home are uninhabitable due to extreme violence.