The US Department of Homeland Security has made good on its late-2015 promise of mass deportations of undocumented immigrants from Central America. Immigration enforcement officers detained 121 people, mostly in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina.
Eleven families were part of the weekend deportation operation, which targeted people caught crossing the US-Mexico border after May 1, 2014. The families have been issued final orders of removal by a federal immigration court and have no further opportunities for appeal or prolonged legal action.
On Saturday, at least five families in the Atlanta area were detained, including Ana Lizeth Mejia, 30, and her 9-year-old son, according to reports. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents entered the home of Mejia’s aunt, Joanna Gutierrez, claiming they were seeking a man Gutierrez did not know. After searching her home, the agents asked about Mejia, who had fled Honduras in the summer of 2014 after her brother was killed by a gang, according to the Los Angeles Times. Mejia had attended every court date, and was wearing a court-ordered ankle monitor, Gutierrez said.
“Why abuse a person who is already in the control of the court?”Gutierrez said.
Mejia’s relatives told EFE news agency that she faces a warrant for deportation on January 5.
Elsewhere in Atlanta, ICE agents “barged into homes, even when asked for warrants at the door, removing mothers and children as young as 4 years old,” according to the #Not1More Campaign, which stands in opposition to escalated“deportations, incarceration, and criminalization of immigrant communities.”
“They took away children so young they would’ve needed car seats in their vehicles for them,” said Adelina Nicholls, executive director of Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR). “The fear this causes isn’t contained to ICE. It spreads to fear of the police, of local government, especially as ICE tries to get its reach back into local institutions.”
GLAHR is representing five of the deportation cases “that appear to be already transferred to a South Texas facility,” the group said.