Philadelphia and BIA Create Obstacles for Federal Deportation Initiatives


The few checks and balances in place to retain humanity within the immigration system are starting to kick in with two new developments in new Immigration initiatives to detain and deport Central American immigrants on final notice of removal.

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) granted emergency stays of removal for 5 families set to be deported on Wednesday to allow the families to file appeals. This move stands in significant contrast to statements made by Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who said that families being removed under this initiative had “exhausted all of their legal options,” according to the McClatchy DC Bureau.

Laura Lichter, general counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), suggests that the stays are being granted because of wrongful handling of these deportation attempts. “What does it mean when we get five out of six cases stayed? That means something is wrong here. If there was no case, nothing here, we wouldn’t have gotten the stay.”

In another surprising disruption to measures taken to deport families, the mayor of Philadelphia, PA issued city executive actions decreeing that the city officials and police will not participate in federal deportation initiatives, citing the termination of the Secure Communities program that shifted much of the onus for detention and deportation onto local officials.

The mayor, James Kenney, issued the order as his first act of office. He took office today.

“The fear generated by ICE’s raids doesn’t stay contained to that agency. ICE makes people afraid of anyone in uniform,” said Philadelphia-based organization Juntos director Erika Almiron. “As the agency once again shows itself to have no regard for civil rights or family values, we need our elected leaders to stand up and denounce the harm of deportations.”

As of today, at least 121 people have been taken into detention in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina, most of them having entered the U.S. across the Mexico border last spring.