LOS ANGELES - Several immigrant rights organizations and official bodies of Central American countries Sunday criticized the arrests of Central American immigrants with deportation orders this weekend in Atlanta, which led to alarm among undocumented immigrants.
"The actions against the immigrant community by ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the Obama Administration are negligent, inhuman, and absurd," the spokesperson for the Coalition For Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Jorge Mario Cabrera, told EFE.
Immigrant rights activists have been concerned over Saturday's arrest of at least five families of undocumented immigrants in the Atlanta area, including Honduran Ana Lizeth Mejia, 30, and her 9-year-old son, William Alexander.
Relatives of Mejia told EFE she was facing a warrant for deportation on Jan. 5 and her arrest, similar to those of other Central Americans in the city, has generated panic among immigrants.
Victor Nieblas, president of American Immigration Lawyers Association, or AILA, said they recently asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, for clarifications on the parameters of arresting and deporting immigrants who entered in 2014 and those who lost their cases in immigration courts without getting any responses.
He also noted at least one of the families arrested Saturday in Atlanta is being represented by AILA, which perceived "errors in the opinion of the courts", generated by the speed of processes that the government wants to implement, further compounded by the shortage of immigration judges.
Meanwhile, the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed in a statement the arrest made Saturday in Atlanta of two Guatemalan families by ICE officers.
National Day Labor Organizing Network issued a national level warning Sunday saying the "deportation plan of the Obama Administration had begun" and enabled a hotline to report any raid or arrest.
Saturday's arrests happened shortly after the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported on a national campaign that ICE was preparing to deport thousands of illegal immigrant families.
In a statement sent to EFE, the ICE spokesperson Gillian Christense, defended the government policy of deportations this week recalling it has the capacity to deport families (majority from Central America) that recently crossed the border with Mexico illegally.
She also added deporting "individuals who pose a threat to national, public and border security" were a priority.