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Immigration: limit dangerous deportation practices
May 09, 2013

Immigration: limit dangerous deportation practices
Organizations that work with migrants at the Southern border regularly witness the harmful impacts of current deportation practices on the safety and well-being of recently deported migrants. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
This amendment would prohibit nighttime deportations and require that migrants be deported to the port of entry nearest to where they were apprehended. Additionally, it would direct DHS to consider a range of deportation location factors including homicide and violent crimes rates and the availability of services for migrants. Finally, the amendment ensures that U.S. federal authorities return migrants’ non-perishable belongings before repatriation.

(Washington, D.C.) May 9, 2013 — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and 60 other organizations have written a letter to members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to support an amendment that will limit dangerous deportation practices. The amendment was proposed by Sen. Chris Coons to S.744, the immigration reform bill under consideration. 

The text of the letter follows:

We urge you to support Amendment EAS13605 (Coons 2) offered by Senator Coons, limiting dangerous deportation practices that unnecessarily make migrants more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.

Organizations that work with migrants at the Southern border regularly witness the harmful impacts of current deportation practices on the safety and well-being of recently deported migrants. Moving forward, this amendment will ensure that the Department of Homeland Security considers factors that threaten the life and safety of a migrant when determining how, when, and where to deport migrants at the Southern border.

Too often, migrants are separated from traveling companions including family members and deported to unfamiliar border towns with high rates of violence and organized crime at night after most shelters have closed, forcing them to spend the night without shelter or protection. A particular concern is that an evolving and worsening security situation in northern Mexico is not being taken into account by DHS. These practices needlessly endanger recently deported migrants.

In the absence of a compelling governmental interest or migrant consent, this amendment would prohibit nighttime deportations and require that migrants be deported to the port of entry nearest to where they were apprehended. Additionally, it would direct DHS to consider a range of deportation location factors including homicide and violent crimes rates and the availability of services for migrants. Finally, the amendment ensures that U.S. federal authorities return migrants’ non-perishable belongings before repatriation.

Recent research from the University of Arizona  and the International Organization of Migration  show that deporting migrants to a different port of entry than the one they entered is not an effective deterrent to unauthorized crossing. On the contrary, lateral repatriations may make migrants more susceptible to human smuggling as described in the IOM report: 

CPB claims that ATEP disrupts (and sometimes shuts down) smuggling operations at different points along the border. This assessment overlooks the fact that smuggling organizations are present in all major border towns and coyotes wait at ports of entry to aggressively offer their services as soon as migrants cross into Mexico. Entering an unfamiliar city, often at night, can be overwhelming and many migrants are cajoled into going with a coyote who may rob or kidnap them.   

Additionally, the cost of transferring migrants to other ports of entry before deportation is a poor use of federal resources.

To ensure that the U.S. meets its commitment to carry out safe, orderly, dignified and humane repatriation, we urge you to support Amendment EAS13605 (Coons 2) offered by Senator Coons.


by Mary Small
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA Assistant Director for Policy 

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Immigration reform must preserve family unity

Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communicationsdirector@jesuit.org
202-629-5946