- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 24, 2015

Reports that President Obama’s Homeland Security Department is planning raids against illegal-immigrant families from Central America prompted an immediate backlash Thursday from liberal advocacy groups and politicians, who especially lamented the timing of the Christmas-week news break.

According to the initial report Wednesday evening in the Washington Post, citing “people familiar with the operation,” the raids will be the first large-scale effort to deport people who have been defying removal orders by immigration judges.

“I am very disturbed by reports that the government may commence raids to deport families who have fled here to escape violence in Central America,” said Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent and a 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. “As we spend time with our families this holiday season, we who are parents should ask ourselves what we would do if our children faced the danger and violence these children do? How far would we go to protect them?”

Martin O’Malley, another 2016 Democratic hopeful, also slammed the proposal, saying on Twitter that a “Christmas refugee roundup” sounds like “something [GOP candidate Donald Trump] would concoct.”

And a spokeswoman for front-runner Hillary Clinton said in a statement the Clinton campaign also “has real concerns” about what the administration was reportedly considering.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, which reportedly has not been given final approval, is expected to target hundreds of families and result in immediate deportations. About 100,000 families are believed to have crossed the Mexican border since last year.

But according to the Post report, even such a relatively small proposal has been “controversial inside the Obama administration.”

An ICE spokeswoman told the Associated Press on Thursday that the agency focuses on individuals “who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”

President Obama has come under attack by liberal advocacy groups such as Not One More for deporting too many people. Meanwhile, he also is embroiled in a court fight over elements of his deportation amnesty order, though even the uncontroversial policies shield most of the nation’s illegal-immigrant population from the threat of deportation.

America’s Voice, a leading immigrant-rights group kept up the attack Thursday, noting in a statement that “on Christmas Eve, we learned of an extremely disturbing development.”

“Talk about timing — the day before Christmas we hear the Obama administration is going to use raids that terrorize entire neighborhoods and communities to arrest, detain and deport young families back to some of the most murderous countries in the world,” said Frank Sharry, the group’s executive director.

“We thought the days of immigration raids on families were over. … Let us hope DHS reverses course, and quickly.”

Skepticism also came from the other side of the immigration debate, where people who advocate a crackdown on illegal immigration derided the report on the raids as a leaked political stunt.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Post.

And even if the plan were to happen, Mr. Krikorian said, it would merely be “a drop in the bucket” and “enforcement theater.”

But the possible plan did pick up one supporter — Mr. Trump. Indeed, the tycoon even went so far as to take credit for the possible raids.

In a tweet Thursday evening, he expressed all-capital-letters incredulity that ICE is “to launch large-scale deportation raids.”

He not only said it was “about time” for the operation, but began his tweet by saying “Wow, because of the pressure put on by me “

Ironically, America’s Voice agreed.

“The plan raises the ugly specter of the very mass roundups and deportation advocated by several candidates running for the GOP presidential nomination — most notably Donald Trump,” the group’s earlier statement said.

Mr. Sharry also warned of “a political nightmare for the Democrats” if they were to be “going after Central Americans who have fled unspeakable violence,” while many in the party “have been speaking up for the protection of Syrians who have fled unspeakable violence, as they should.”

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