Justice Department Halts Deportations Following Raids

Communications Associate

January 6, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has halted the deportations of 12 people from four families who were detained in raids over the weekend.

Their deportations had been scheduled for this morning, but the BIA granted emergency stays of deportation while their asylum cases are appealed.

“Our interviews revealed that these families have bona fide asylum claims, but were deprived of a meaningful opportunity to present them at their hearings in immigration court,” Katie Shepherd, Managing Attorney for the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, said in a statement.

The CARA project has met with families held at a detention facility in Dilley, Texas, and reports that many “did not understand the legal process or their right to appeal a negative determination by the immigration judge,” among other concerns.

As Salon writer David Dayen points out, “The question is not really whether to honor deportation orders but whether these particular migrants should have received them at all. … Should people fleeing violence be sent back to face it?”

“The BIA’s decision recognizes the shortcomings of Homeland Security’s approach,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “The administration must do more than give lip service to due process.

“The Department of Homeland Security is making decisions based on a political strategy to send a message. The only message those fleeing violence and persecution should be hearing from the U.S. is that their asylum claims will be considered in accordance with the rights and protections we hold dear as Americans.”