Nation's Highest Immigration Court Halts Deportations Ordered on Christmas Eve

This 2014 photo shows a dehydrated teenage girl accompanied by a little girl who Border Patrol rescued in the Rio Grande Valley. Both were likely turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. - U.S. Border Patrol
U.S. Border Patrol
This 2014 photo shows a dehydrated teenage girl accompanied by a little girl who Border Patrol rescued in the Rio Grande Valley. Both were likely turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Mohammad Abdollahi, a media liaison for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), sent out an unusual email. It was positive.

"Just in, the Board of Immigration Appeals just granted Stay of Deportations for the first 5 of hundreds of raid victims. More appeals are being filed as ICE allows attorneys to talk to mothers and children picked up in the raids," he wrote. "This further proves our point, not a single mother picked up in these raids will be deported. Due process prevails!"

On Christmas Eve, sources in the Department of Homeland Security told the Washington Post that Immigration and Customs Enforcement were going to start rounding up 100,000 Central Americans ordered deported after the new year, even though many of those women and children hadn't talked to a lawyer, according to RAICES. 

"In what some are dubbing the 'car-seat raids' ICE agents, who reportedly lacked judicial warrants and engaged in coercive tactics to gain entry into hundreds of homes across the country, transferred raid victims to private, for-profit family internment camps in south Texas," Abdollahi wrote. "Once there, ICE officials denied women and children access to lawyers. The only families who were able to obtain pro bono counsel sought and, on Tuesday night, obtained emergency protection against deportation from the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Virginia."

That pro bono counsel argued ICE committed "serious due process violations."

Those arrested began to arrive at the Dilley Family Detention Center in South Texas Sunday. They came from Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and Atlanta, according to RAICES.

"Mothers and children — victims of these raids — were woken up at early hours of the day, told they had no rights and were forced to leave their homes with ICE agents. ICE refused to tell the families where they were being taken, failed to provide warrants even upon request, and refused to allow mothers and children a moment to talk to family or loved ones. One mother reported having to leave her house, with ICE walking into her children’s bedrooms to wake them, in just her pajamas," according to a press release sent earlier on Tuesday, before the ruling.

RAICES says mothers at the detention facility were denied the ability to go a chapel; to speak with attorneys; forced to stay in a courtroom; denied access to a lawyer; told their legal rights were over; and allegedly denied a 3-year-old the right to use a bathroom.

“What ICE should do here is refer to Jeh Johnson’s own press statement yesterday [January 4] and understand that these mothers and children have the right to legal counsel. As a law enforcement agency, ICE should understand what due process violations are, and should immediately cease these abusive tactics it is using in order to secure deportations.” RAICES Executive Director Jonathan Ryan says in a press release. “The mothers we have heard from were victims of fraudulent lawyers, they have legal rights in this country and, by ICE now violating those rights, they have even more legal options available to them.”

Hearing news of the stay, Danny Cendejas, immigration field director for the Texas Organizing Project, said the raids should not even be happening.

"Families and children escaping the trauma of poverty and violence from countries with failed governments who are not protecting them should not be subjected to the trauma of raids and deportations at the hands of our government," Cendejas says in a statement. "We should offer them refuge, not send them back to some of the most violents [sic] corners of the world."

About The Author

Scroll to read more San Antonio News articles
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.