The Hope Border Institute expresses concern that the Obama Administration is once again planning a surge in deportations of Central Americans. These are persons who have recently crossed the border due to extreme situations of violence as well as political and economic instability in the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Administration officials have made clear that these deportations are part of a “deterrence strategy,” intended to send a message to those who would seek to escape the humanitarian crisis in their home countries that the journey to the United States is not worth making.
The human dignity of our migrant brothers and sisters is sacred and their lives should not be placed in jeopardy in the name of “deterrence,” by returning them to potentially deadly situations of violence. It is disappointing that the Obama administration has chosen to prioritize deterrence over relief to those clearly in need, in some cases without providing opportunities to migrants to make asylum claims. Even if limited in scope, more than sending a message of deterrence abroad these deportations sow fear in communities and families across the United States.
The specter of family separation and forced repatriation to lethal environments in Central America stands in sharp contrast to the work of the Catholic community on the US-Mexico border to welcome migrants with mercy and compassion, witnessed every day by the Hope Border Institute.
Speaking on the planned raids, Bishop Oscar Cantú of the Diocese of Las Cruces said, “I join my voice to Hope Border Institute in questioning the wisdom of the administration’s plan to deport mothers and children fleeing violence in Central America. I am troubled that migrants will be forced to return to dangerous situations in their home country after having sacrificed so much to reach asylum within our borders.”
Also commenting, Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso said, “I would urge Americans to come to know the stories of those who are appearing at our border just to listen to them and become familiar with the situations they are escaping.”