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DHS Begins Targeted Deportation Of Central American Families

Immigration and Customs Enforcement last weekend began a targeted deportation of Central Americans who are in the country illegally. That includes families in Texas.

Thousands of Central American women and children fleeing violence have been released from family detention centers in the last 18 months. But there aren't enough community and legal services to help them make their cases for asylum. 

That’s according to Johnathan Ryan, executive director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, RAICES.

He says these people are falling between the cracks.

“They have claims, they’re eligible for asylum," says Ryan. "They’re just unable to put together what amounts to a doctoral thesis at times of work in order to present the evidence to the courts and win the case.”

So, Ryan says, they’re often ordered deported in absentia when they miss their court dates.

The Obama Administration’s plan was reported last month as a response to the surge of Central Americans that entered the U.S. in 2014.

RAICES says families in Houston and Dallas have already been returned to detention centers.

The Department of Homeland Security says 121 individuals were detained over the weekend, primarily from Texas, Georgia and North Carolina.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson says additional operations like these will continue to occur as appropriate. 

Virginia joined Texas Public Radio in September, 2015. Prior to hosting and producing Fronteras for TPR, she worked at WBOI in Indiana to report on often overlooked stories in the community. Virginia began her reporting career at the Statehouse in Salem, OR, and has reported for the Northwest News Network and Oregon Public Broadcasting.