New York City—Human Rights First today condemned the Trump Administration’s planned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids as efforts to terrorize communities and separate families.
While public information has indicated that the raids are aimed at asylum seekers who missed their court dates, the organization noted that the raids may target or impact some asylum seekers—who have fled violence and persecution and are seeking protection in the United States—who intended to show up for their court hearings but were given misleading, inadequate, or inaccurate information by authorities.
“The Trump Administration’s planned raids are yet another attempt to separate families, unnecessarily jail people, and traumatize communities. Whether or not they are the intended targets of this weekend’s activities, asylum seekers who are fleeing violence and persecution are terrified that their loved ones will be torn away from them and thrown into prisons. One family seeking asylum whose cases are still in process told us that their young child is now afraid even to go to the park. This is the reality of the Trump Administration’s cruelty,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer.
Some targets of this weekend’s raids may be asylum seekers who have been issued a removal order in absentia. However, Human Rights First has documented reasons why some asylum seekers miss their court hearings, including that immigration agencies fail to provide adequate, language-appropriate information related to appearance and supervision requirements, as well as the legal consequences of the failure to attend hearings, and that the government in many cases provides incorrect information regarding the time, date, or location of the hearing, or fails to properly serve applicants with hearing notices at all.
The organization also notes that all people in ICE custody must be provided access to legal counsel and due process.
Human Rights First is one of the nation’s largest providers of pro bono legal representation for asylum seekers, and represents clients in New York City, Washington, D.C., Houston, and Los Angeles.
For more information if you are targeted in this weekend’s raids, see National Immigration Law Center’s guide.