ICE Agents Are Trying to Deport Parents of Children Who Flee Dangerous Countries

Federal agents are pursuing deportation cases against hundreds of unauthorized immigrant parents who sent for their children from sometimes violently dangerous countries.Maria Pacheco, 27, arranged for her daughter to travel north from her birthplace in El Salvador to the United States this summer.It was a few months before the girl’s 13th birthday. Pacheco feared the worst: Yaquelin could be sexually assaulted by a gang member, just as Pacheco was when she was the same age. Yaquelin was detained at the border. After a few days of processing, she was released into her mother’s custody pending the outcome of her deportation case.Days later, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent called her cell phone and told her they needed to meet. Pacheco agreed, thinking she’d be safe because she’d been in Texas for so long without any trouble, she said.“I was afraid, but I was sure that 12 years here wasn’t going to be thrown away,” Pacheco said.The ICE agent came to her home and interviewed her. Within a few days, ICE began the court process to deport Pacheco, the very caretaker with whom other federal authorities had placed her daughter.Pacheco is one of 443 people who’ve had deportation cases launched against them as part of an operation called the “human smuggling disruption initiative” that began in June and ended in August. It specifically targeted the parents or guardians of juvenile migrants who “smuggle” their children into the country, although the 443 includes what ICE calls “collateral arrests,” too.“Regardless of the desires for family reunification, or conditions in other countries, the smuggling or trafficking of alien children is intolerable,” then-Homeland Security chief John Kelly said in a February implementing memo on the executive order calling for a broad border crackdown.Advocates for the immigrants say they’ve never before seen anything like the operation.  Continue reading...

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