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This past Christmas Eve, a nationwide immigration raids was announced and launched by Immigration and Custom Enforcement to remove Central American families and unaccompanied children with deportation orders from the United States. Today, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement on southwest border security, including information on this weekend’s ICE raids, during which 121 individuals—primarily from Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina—were taken into custody and are in the process of being removed.

“Attempting to unlawfully enter the United States as a family unit does not protect individuals from being subject to the immigration laws of this country,” said an official with the Department of Homeland Security who was not permitted to speak on the record. “ICE will continue to pursue the removal of persons who fall within DHS immigration enforcement priorities, including families who are recent unlawful border crossers and who are subject to final orders of removal.”

The official says that ICE is working to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, and that the deportations are part of a plan to convince migrants that entering the country illegally is “fruitless.”

Previous enforcement policy, officials have said, has done little to deter Central American migrants, and judicial orders releasing many migrant families from detention have fed a perception in Central America that anyone who reaches the U.S. can stay.

Immigrant advocates questioned prioritizing immigration raids against nonviolent migrants for deportation and whether the facilities that hold them are suitable for minors.

For more information on immigration raids, email or call 1-877-GAIL-LAW or 407-292-7730.

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