The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States issued a statement on Jan. 5 denouncing the Obama administration’s decision to conduct nationwide raids on people who have fled Central America.
On the eve of the Christmas holiday, media outlets reported the administration’s plan to round up and deport Central American families and adult asylum seekers, “despite the fact that the Northern Triangle of Central America is undergoing a human rights crisis that has resulted in the forced migration of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran citizens,” according to the statement.
"The President is risking his legacy in conducting these immigration raids—the style and scope of which we have not seen in the last decade. We are especially disturbed by reports of immigration officials forcibly entering residences in Georgia and Texas over the last several days to conduct invasive searches and round ups of Central American asylum seekers, including children as young as four,” the statement said. "Such tactics sow fear in immigrant communities, create distrust between these communities and law enforcement officials, and traumatize children and adult asylum seekers who survived persecution and perilous journeys to find protection in the United States."
Father William Kelley, SJ, Secretary for Social and International Ministry at the Jesuit Conference, noted that the work of the Jesuits in Central America “has allowed us to witness firsthand the tragic unraveling of respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law in the region.”
Father Kelley said that children and adults in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are often caught between gang members who control the area and militarized police, while others are forced from their lands because of corruption.
“These are the factors that drive people to flee for their lives. These problems cannot be addressed through irresponsible and insensitive immigration tactics. Rather, the root causes of the forced displacement must be addressed,” said Father Kelley.
Read the full Jesuit Conference statement here.