WASHINGTON,U.S.A. — US President Barack Obama’s administration is planning an operation to round up and expel migrant families fleeing drought and violence in Central America, reports said today.
The flow of families and unaccompanied children crossing into the United States from Mexico slowed in 2015, but the numbers surged upwards again in October and November.
Several Latin American countries are in the grip of violent lawlessness and the El Nino weather pattern has plunged several countries in the region into drought.
The Department of Homeland Security did not dispute anonymously-sourced reports in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that a crackdown is imminent.
According to the reports, hundreds of families living in the United States whose asylum requests have been denied will be rounded up and sent home.
DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told AFP that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson “has consistently said our border is not open to illegal immigration.
“If individuals come here illegally, do not qualify for asylum or other relief, and have final orders of removal, they will be sent back consistent with our laws and our values.”
Any such operation would be controversial.
Refugee rights activists argue the families are fleeing corruption, gang violence and drought in their homelands and should be treated as refugees.