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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Obama Administration Steps Up Deportations of Central Americans

For reasons that are not at all clear to me--nor to anyone else to whom I have spoken--the Obama administration announced yesterday that are going to step up deportations of Central Americans whose requests for asylum have been administratively turned down. As the NYTimes notes, the ostensible reason is to send a message to Central Americans that the border is not open, so don't come. If, in fact, the border is as well patrolled as the administration claims that it is, that shouldn't be a problem. Rather, these people are being deported back into situations that will put them, once again, in harm's way, and they are being deported in most cases without proper assistance to make their case.
Many women and children said they were running from murderous violence by gangs, especially in El Salvador and Honduras, where criminal organizations control city barrios and have expanded their reach into rural villages. The families applied for asylum, but the vast majority — 86 percent, according to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a group that studies federal data — went to court without lawyers. Court records show that asylum seekers have a very low chance of success without lawyers.
In some cases, advocates succeeded in stopping deportations at the last minute by providing legal counsel to the families.
Keep in mind that the gangs in Central America are largely a product of earlier deportations of young people (mostly men) who learned how to create gangs and generate gang rule by living in the U.S. And, of course, the U.S. has historically contributed as much to the instability of the region as it has helped the region positively. This is a joint problem that requires a joint solution, rather than just willy-nilly sending people back.

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