A 2014 protest against President Obama’s deportations. (via Flickr)

Despite wide-ranging opposition from Democrats in Congress, the Obama administration is preparing to unleash a new wave of deportations. This time, the raids will target women and children from Central America. Reuters reports:

The operation would likely be the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families by the administration of President Barack Obama this year after a similar drive over two days in January that focused on Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina.

Those raids, which resulted in the detention of 121 people, mostly women and children, sparked an outcry from immigration advocates and criticism from some Democrats, including the party’s presidential election frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has now told field offices nationwide to launch a 30-day “surge” of arrests focused on mothers and children who have already been told to leave the United States, the document seen by Reuters said. The operation would also cover minors who have entered the country without a guardian and since turned 18 years of age, the document said. Two sources confirmed the details of the plan.

The exact dates of the latest series of raids were not known and the details of the operation could change.

Although these large-scale raids are a departure from past ICE policies of “one-off deportations,” the continuation of deportations is nothing new for the Obama administration. “When it comes to getting tough on immigration, Republican candidates talk the talk, but Obama walks the walk,” Fusion notes. “President Obama has deported more people than any U.S. president before him, and almost more than every other president combined from the 20th century.”

This latest string of deportations has already elicited intense responses from Obama’s fellow politicians. The Hill writes that many Democrats “are concerned the immigrants have not only been denied basic legal protections but also face a perilous future if they’re forced to return to the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which rank among the most violent in the world.” Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., added, “These are not illegal immigrants. These are children, these are people fleeing violence.”

Human rights advocates have also condemned the move. Dan Kovilak, a human and labor rights lawyer, writes at The Huffington Post:

Sending mothers and young children back to countries from which they are fleeing violence is immoral and cruel as Pope Francis has recently emphasized. It is also illegal, as the U.S. is required under international law, for example under Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to accept such refugees who are fleeing from persecution in their home counties. And, when one considers the U.S.’s role in creating the conditions of persecution these refugees are fleeing, the immoral and criminal nature of Obama’s planned course of action is crystal clear.

Many are also questioning the political timing of the planned deportations. The Hill notes that this is “a high-stakes election year when Hispanic voters could prove pivotal in vital battleground states like Virginia, Florida, Colorado and Nevada.” It adds:

The Democrats see themselves benefiting politically from the hardline immigration positions of Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, and worry that additional ICE raids would undermine that advantage.

“This is ill-advised, ill-timed and counterproductive on anything we’re talking about in terms of galvanizing our community for the upcoming elections,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).

If Obama’s history of deportations is any measure, outcries from politicians and activists won’t deter the planned raids. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, has yet to comment.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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