Another wave of Central American immigrant deportations expected

FILE: A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent detains an immigrant in October 2015.
FILE: A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent detains an immigrant in October 2015.
John Moore/Getty Images

Listen to story

Download this story 0MB

Federal officials plan a new crackdown on immigrants who recently crossed the border illegally and have been ordered deported. 

The crackdown continues the deportations that began earlier this year in states like Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. About 120 people from Central America were caught in that sweep.

The latest wave of deportations targets those who arrived after Jan. 1, 2014, including many Central American families and unaccompanied minors who arrived in the U.S. since then.

Some immigrants said they’re afraid.

Yoselin came from Guatemala last year with her young daughter and her husband. She said her husband, who owned a car wash, was extorted by gangs and shots fired at the business. She asked not to use her last name because of her illegal residency status.

“The fear we have is that we’d return to our country and encounter only death,” she said in Spanish. 

Yoselin and her family are seeking asylum and have not been ordered deported, but she said they are worried nonetheless.

Advocates for the Central Americans said many immigrants are ordered deported without their knowledge.

Jorge-Mario Cabrera with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles said many are ordered out of the country after they miss a court hearing. He said some miss them inadvertently because they're not aware; many of the immigrants don't have legal counsel.

“Most of not all of these young men and women were deported in absentia, and do not even know their cases were denied,” Cabrera said.

Federal officials aren’t providing details on just where raids will take place, but there's speculation among advocates that there will be enforcement in Southern California.

Salvador Sanabria of El Rescate, a legal aid group that serves Central Americans, said: "Los Angeles...is the place where the largest concentration of Central Americans [immigrants] in the world is located."

About one in five Central American immigrants in the U.S. lives in the Los Angeles region, according to population estimates.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials stressed that immigrants with pending cases such as appeals and claims for asylum won’t be targeted, only those already ordered deported.

"We stress that in its enforcement operations, ICE will continue to adhere to existing guidance to avoid apprehension of individuals at sensitive locations such as schools, hospitals and places of worship, except in emergency circumstances," U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said in a statement Friday.