The Obama administration is not done rounding up families of newly arrived Central American migrants. Five months after his administration conducted holiday raids on immigrant homes in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, President Obama plans to revive his targeted enforcement actions with a series of raids this spring, Reuters reported Thursday. As always, there are humanitarian (one might even say moral) concerns with how such enforcement actions will affect the people who’ve fled their home countries for the United States. And then there are the political concerns.
The month-long raids, Reuters reported, will take place in May and June and, if they’re like the raids which took place in early January, would likely target newly arrived migrants from Central America who immigration officials have deemed ineligible for humanitarian relief. The raids are widely considered a response to a renewed uptick in border crossings by migrants fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, where forced conscription into gangs, rampant sexual violence, and the world’s highest murder rates have pushed tens of thousands to flee their home countries.
The height of the crisis came in the summer of 2014, when some 65,000 children arrived at the US-Mexico border and presented themselves to Border Patrol agents with the hope of applying for asylum. The numbers of children and families arriving at the border eventually tapered off, but jumped again in the final months of 2015. In November and December of last year, 6,471 and 8,974 children traveling with family members were apprehended at the border, respectively. Those numbers were three and four times the apprehensions for similar months in prior years. After a sharp drop in January of this year, the numbers of border apprehensions are again climbing. In other words, the United States likely hasn’t seen the last of this humanitarian crisis.
The raids have multiple audiences: They’re, on one hand, intended to discourage those in Central America from trying to make it to the United States. The US government has also backed PR campaigns—including the production of a pop song called “La Bestia,” or “The Beast,” the nickname of the often-fatal freight trains that migrants ride north from Central America through Mexico. The song warns of the hazards of migration. The raids are but another part of the US government’s misguided PR campaign.