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|1/8 Atlanta, GA: More than Fifty Georgia Elected Officials, Faith, Community, and Labor Leaders Condemn ICE Raids
Released 26 March 2016  By The Georgia #Not1More coalition
More than Fifty Georgia Elected Officials, Faith, Community, and Labor Leaders Condemn ICE Raids
January 8, 2016
Atlanta – The Georgia #Not1More coalition today released a statement condemning the recent raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which targeted Central American women and children seeking asylum in this country. “It is deeply troubling for ICE to target mothers and children seeking refuge from persecution, murder, and torture in their home countries in Central America for deportation back to those same conditions and worse,” read the statement signed by more than fifty elected officials, faith, community, and labor leaders.
“I deplore these recent raids by ICE. How can they defend deporting women and children who fled for their lives from violence? Surely we should shelter those seeking refuge here from rape and murder. We call on ICE to stop these raids,” said State Senator Nan Orrock.
The signers called for ICE to immediately halt the raids and for the federal government to provide a fair process for asylum-seekers to pursue their claims. Representatives of the Georgia #Not1More coalition hailed the statement and further denounced the raids.
“Georgia community leaders are horrified by the raids targeting women and children seeking a safe haven in our state. Such tactics of intimidation and deception have no place in Georgia.” – Azadeh Shahshahani, Project South.
“We urge an independent investigation of the ICE office here to uncover and stop its abuses. It’s not a coincidence that the raids centered on Georgia where ICE agents are well practiced at intimidation tactics to get into our homes. We denounce the Obama Administration as it authorized, coordinated, and executed such actions against families who have been forced to flee horrible and violent conditions in their homelands.” – Adelina Nicholls, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR).
“The latest round of raids and intimidation from ICE is not new, and once again, the lives of immigrant families, refugees, mothers and children become nothing more than numbers in a national deportation quota. We are proud to stand with political and community leaders of this region and Georgia who say no more to these deportation-driven operations that sow fear where we see sanctuary and possibility. ” – Paulina Helm-Hernandez, Southerners On New Ground (SONG).
“We can all agree that mothers and children who have fled violence and oppression in their home countries to live and work in Georgia should not be made victims a second time by a rogue agency. The breadth of support for this statement shows that these raid tactics do not have the general support of our communities or our leaders and should stop immediately.” – Xochitl Bervera, Racial Justice Action Center.
“These women and children have fled from Central America to our nation for asylum and safety. Our political leaders need to welcome them into our nation with open arms instead of deporting them potentially to their deaths.” – Neil Sardana, Atlanta Jobs with Justice.
Georgia #Not1More coalition is a coalition made up of: Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR), Southerners On New Ground (SONG), Project South, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, US Human Rights Network, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Georgia WAND, Racial Action Justice Center, coalicion de lideres latinos-CLILA, National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), Southeastern Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN), Women Watch Afrika, Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America, Georgia Detention Watch, GA Moral Mondays, and American Friends Service Committee – Atlanta.
Statement Condemning the Raids
The undersigned elected officials, faith, community, and labor leaders from Georgia write to express our concern regarding the recent raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targeting Central American women and children asylum seekers in states including Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.
It is deeply troubling for ICE to target mothers and children seeking refuge from persecution, murder, and torture in their home countries in Central America for deportation back to those same conditions and worse. Instead of retraumatizing families who have often borne the brunt of our broken immigration system, our government should respect and fulfill its international obligations and provide those who fear torture or have a well-founded fear of persecution a safe haven.
Most Central American families who came to the United States during the last year and a half did so in an effort to save themselves and their children from violence, poverty, and egregious human rights violations. As a result, a significant number of these individuals, especially women and children, suffer from trauma-induced conditions such as PTSD, depression, and anxiety. ICE raids targeting Central American families has filled our community with terror and fear that undercuts our ability to build a welcoming state; the raids should be stopped immediately.
The federal government must also ensure that Central American asylum-seekers are provided with a fair process for pursuing their asylum claims. Many of these families have strong asylum claims, but were deprived of a meaningful opportunity to present them at their hearings in immigration court. Many mothers did not understand the legal process or their right to appeal a negative determination by the immigration judge. As a result, these already traumatized families have been incarcerated, with inconsolable children and mothers terrified of deportation who have limited access to legal assistance.
ICE’s conduct during the raids raises serious legal concerns. None of the family members saw a warrant before ICE entered their homes. ICE failed in some instances to obtain valid consent to enter homes, using illegal coercion and deception to conduct the raids. ICE had granted the majority of these families permission to remain in the United States under orders of supervision, even providing work authorization.
We call on the federal government to immediately put a stop to raids and to ensure that migrants seeking a safe haven in this country are afforded a fair process to put forward their legal claims. President Obama has called on the nation to welcome refugees. We want to support that call by making sure our political generosity extends to those who badly need it in our own state.
Statement from Cities United for Immigration Action on Recent Reports of Federal ICE Raids http://www.citiesforaction.us/statement_ice_raids
NY Times Editorial: “A Shameful Round-Up of Refugees.” Jan. 8, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/08/opinion/a-shameful-round-up-of-refugees.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1
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