#Not1More Deportation

Jeh Johnson’s Statement on Raids – Edited for Accuracy

In response to DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson’s statement on the coordinated raids of 121 people as young as four years old in the beginning of the new year, Chicago lawyer Mony Ruiz-Velasco edited the Secretary’s statement for accuracy. Her results are below.

Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson on Southwest Border Security [as it should read[1]]

Release Date:
January 4, 2016
For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
Contact: 202-282-8010

As I have said repeatedly, our borders are not open to illegal [or in many cases, legal] migration; if you come here illegally, we will send you back [or you will be unlawfully and indefinitely detained, deported or denied entry[2]] consistent [rarely] with our laws and values. In the spring and summer of 2014 we faced a significant spike in families and unaccompanied children from Central America [also known as refugees/asylum seekers] attempting to cross our southern border illegally [seeking protection pursuant to our commitment to international standards and U.S. law – i.e., not illegally[3]]. In response, we took a number of [unlawful] actions [in violation of U.S. asylum law and international human rights standards[4]] in collaboration with the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, [that made it much more dangerous to come to the U.S. for protection[5]] and the numbers declined dramatically. In Fiscal Year 2015, the number of apprehensions by U.S. Border Patrol of those attempting to cross our southern border illegally — an indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally — decreased to 331,333. With the exception of one year, this was the lowest number of apprehensions on our southern border since 1972. In recent months, however, the rate of apprehensions on our southern border has begun to climb again. [because conditions in some Central American countries are extremely dangerous – El Salvador and Honduras are the top two most dangerous countries in the world; thus, people are forced to leave their home countries behind to seek protection for their children and families[6]]

In November 2014, I issued new priorities [that have mostly not been followed, and which we are not enforcing[7]] for immigration enforcement as part of the President’s immigration accountability executive actions. These new Department-wide priorities focus our enforcement resources on convicted criminals and threats to public safety. [although in many cases, individuals often do not have convictions and/or present public safety or security threats in any way[8]] These new enforcement priorities also focus on border security, namely the removal of those apprehended at the border or who came here illegally [and by illegally, we also mean seeking protection for persecution or death] after January 1, 2014.

We must enforce the law in accordance with these priorities [unless we determine, in our own unreviewable abuse of discretion that we still want to deport you]

We must enforce the law in accordance with these priorities [unless we determine, in our own unreviewable abuse of discretion that we still want to deport you], and secure our borders [yes, we must protect our borders from children, many toddlers and four year olds seeking protection from death, torture, persecution and certain harm].

Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with our domestic and international partners [such as other law enforcement agencies engaging in illegal practices], is undertaking the following actions [which are costing the U.S. millions of dollars, that would be better spent on legal representation for immigrants, community education and resources to refugees seeking protection[9]]:



Since the summer of 2014 we have removed and repatriated [forcibly deported] migrants to Central America at an increased rate, averaging about 14 flights a week [mass deportation of people of color]. Most of those returned [forcibly deported] have been single adults. [many have been killed after being returned or have been unable to escape persecution again[10]]

This past weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) engaged in concerted, [terrorizing] nationwide enforcement operations to take into custody and return at a greater rate adults who entered this country illegally with children [also known as families who are afraid to return to their home countries[11]]. This should come as no surprise [especially since this administration has detained and deported more people than any other in history[12]]. I have said publicly for months that individuals who constitute enforcement priorities [as well as those who do not], including families and unaccompanied children, will be removed.

The focus of this weekend’s operations were adults and their children [i.e., families] who (i) were apprehended after May 1, 2014 crossing the southern border illegally [seeking protection from persecution and death and mostly being denied the right to apply for protection and in many cases ordered removed expeditously[13]], (ii) have been issued final orders of removal by an immigration court [without appointed lawyers and in a system that by design denies people due process protections[14]], and (iii) have exhausted appropriate legal remedies, and have no outstanding appeal or claim for asylum or other humanitarian relief under our laws [or more likely, who have are not informed or knowledgeable about their legal rights because they do not have lawyers and were denied protection even when facing persecution[15]]. As part of these operations, 121 individuals were taken into custody, primarily [but not exclusively[16]] from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, and they are now in the process of being repatriated. To effect removal, most families are first being transported to one of ICE’s family residential centers [also known as jails where children and mothers are being re-traumatized and denied due process protections[17]] for temporary processing before being issued travel documents [deportation without a hearing] and boarding a return flight to their home countries [forcibly deporting against their will, to countries where they will face grave danger and possible death].

Given the sensitive [inhumane] nature of taking into custody and removing [by forcibly entering the homes and unlawfully detaining and deporting] families with children, a number of precautions were taken as part of this weekend’s operations. ICE deployed from around the country a number of female agents [who are serving the same exact functions as their male counterparts: detaining, deporting and separating families] and medical personnel to take part in the operations, and, in the course of the operations, ICE exercised prosecutorial discretion in a number of cases for health or other personal reasons.

This enforcement action was overseen by Sarah Saldaña, the Director of ICE, and supported and executed by Thomas Homan, a career law enforcement official who leads ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations.

At my direction, additional enforcement operations such as these will continue to occur as appropriate [although breaking down doors, misrepresenting facts and detaining and deporting families and children can by no means be considered appropriate or in many cases, legal[18]]

The Flores case

We continue to [violate court orders and] disagree with the District Court decision in the Flores case that a 1997 settlement of a case solely involving unaccompanied children [although the case does not reference “unaccompanied” it simply refers to minors] now[19] applies to children who arrive with a parent and their processing at today’s family residential centers. The decision, and the resulting injunction, significantly constrains our ability to respond to an increasing flow of illegal migration into the United States. We have appealed the decision, and the appellate court has agreed to hear the appeal on an expedited basis. Meanwhile, we have implemented significant reforms to how we operate our family residential centers to transition them to temporary processing facilities for these individuals, and have taken steps to ensure compliance [but only after threatened with contempt[20]] with the District Court’s July 24 and August 21 orders.

*          *         *             *

I know there are many who loudly condemn our enforcement efforts as far too harsh [yes, those of us with a conscience, who are part of or stand with immigrant communities, or with basic principles of dignity and respect for families and justice], while there will be others who say these actions don’t go far enough [Donald Trump]. I also recognize the reality of the pain that deportations do in fact cause [but will continue to push for more deportations, although we have deported more people in the last eight years, that in any previous administration in the history of the U.S.[21]]. But, we must enforce the law consistent with our priorities [but only when it is convenient, otherwise, we deport those even when not consistent with priorities, or in violation of domestic and international laws[22]]. At all times [except most of the time when we are violating our own policies, the law, constitutional due rights and international human rights standards], we endeavor to do this consistent with American values, and basic principles of decency, fairness, and humanity.

# # #

Review Date:  January 4, 2016


[1] Editorial comment by Mony Ruiz-Velasco

[2] New Study Finds Immigration Officers Ordering Unlawful Deportations (2014) http://www.texasobserver.org/new-study-immigration-officers-ordering-unlawful-deportations/

Suits for wrongful deportation by ICE rise (2009) http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Suits-for-wrongful-deportation-by-ICE-rise-3291314.php

[3] See Immigration & Nationality Act §§208, 209, et.al.

[4] See 1980 Refugee Act (signed into law by none other than President Ronald Regan) a that brought the U.S. into compliance with the 1967 U.N. Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees; Universal Declaration of Human Rights

[5] What It’s Really Like To Cross The U.S.-Mexico Border (2015) http://thinkprogress.org/immigration/2015/02/10/3617896/dehydration-scorpions-vigilantes-really-like-cross-border/

[6] One murder every hour: how El Salvador became the homicide capital of the world (2015) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/22/el-salvador-worlds-most-homicidal-place

Which countries have the world’s highest murder rates? Honduras tops the list (2014) http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/10/world/un-world-murder-rates/

[7] Prosecutorial Discretion Denied (2015) http://unitedwedream.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/PDDenied.compressed.pdf

Manuel’s Case: So Much of What’s Wrong with ICE (2015) http://www.notonemoredeportation.com/2015/11/09/roman-inconsistencies/

[8] See Id.

[9] Unaccompanied children crossing southern border in greater numbers again, raising fears of new migrant crisis (2015) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/federal-eye/wp/2015/12/16/unaccompanied-children-crossing-southern-border-in-greater-numbers-again-raising-fears-of-new-migrant-crisis/

[10] Deported to death: The tragic journey of a Salvadoran immigrant (2015) http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/11/deported-to-death-the-tragic-journey-of-an-el-salvadoran-immigrant.html

US government deporting Central American migrants to their deaths (2015) http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/12/obama-immigration-deportations-central-america

[11] Women on the Run: First-Hand Accounts of Refugees Fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico (2015) http://www.unhcr.org/5630f24c6.html

[12] Why Has President Obama Deported More Immigrants Than Any Other President in US History? (2014) http://www.thenation.com/article/why-has-president-obama-deported-more-immigrants-any-president-us-history/

[13] Mexican and Central American Asylum and Credible Fear Claims: Background and Context (2014) http://immigrationpolicy.org/special-reports/mexican-and-central-american-asylum-and-credible-fear-claims-background-and-context

[14] Letter to President Obama Regarding the Denial of Access to Counsel and Fair Hearings for Immigrant Mothers and Children Detained in Artesia, New Mexico (2014) http://www2.nycbar.org/pdf/report/uploads/1_20072779-LetteronDenialofCounselandFairHearingsforDetainedImmigrantMothersChildren.pdf

[15] At an Immigrant Detention Center – Due Process Denied (2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/26/opinion/at-an-immigrant-detention-center-due-process-denied.html?_r=0

[16] There are reports of individuals also recently arrested in Illinois

[17] Stop Detaining Families (2015) http://www.immigrantjustice.org/stop-detaining-families

CARA Pro Bono Project Letter to ICE detailing problems with release practices at Dilley and Karnes (2015) http://www.aila.org/advo-media/aila-correspondence/letter-to-ice-recent-practices-dilley

[18] ICE and Border Patrol Abuses https://www.aclu.org/issues/immigrants-rights/ice-and-border-patrol-abuses

Coercion and Intimidation of Detained Mothers and Children (2015) http://www.aila.org/advo-media/press-releases/2015/coercion-intimidation-detained-mothers-children

[19] Not just now, this case has always been interpreted as protecting all minors in DHS custody

Judge blasts ICE, says immigrant children, parents in detention centers should be released (2015) http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-judge-orders-release-of-immigrant-children-mothers-from-detention-centers-20150725-story.html

[20] Judge Increases Pressure on U.S. to Release Migrant Families (2015) http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/23/us/judge-increases-pressure-on-us-to-release-migrant-families.html?_r=0

[21] Why Has President Obama Deported More Immigrants Than Any Other President in US History? (2014) http://www.thenation.com/article/why-has-president-obama-deported-more-immigrants-any-president-us-history/

[22] See all footnotes above