In a letter sent last week, the North Carolina State AFL-CIO demanded that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson end the ongoing practice of immigration raids that are terrorizing our communities and requested protection for the Central American teenagers who are enrolled in the state’s public schools.
The state AFL-CIO raised concerns over reports of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raiding homes, vehicles and neighborhoods in search of unaccompanied minors and, most recently, arresting teenagers Wildin Acosta and Yefri Sorto on their way to school. These actions have created a climate of fear among immigrant working families across North Carolina and sparked national outrage.
So far in 2016, nine North Carolina teenagers have been arrested and placed in private detention facilities hundreds of miles away from their families, schools and communities. Three of these teenagers already have been deported, and two more face the immediate risk of removal this week.
North Carolina labor leaders made clear that the community wants these students returned immediately and asserted that detention is no place for teenagers who already have suffered significant trauma and hardship. The letter urges DHS to release the youth from detention so they may receive legal counsel to help them navigate our complex immigration legal system.
“We hope you agree that our country should be better than this,” North Carolina State AFL-CIO President James Andrews and North Carolina State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer MaryBe McMillan implored, “No community should live in fear of losing its children, and no teenager should be arrested on his/her way to school or deported back to a life-threatening situation.”
While North Carolina is ground zero for this fight right now, these arrests are part of a national enforcement effort that DHS is calling Operation Border Guardian. DHS reports that they have detained 336 individuals as part of this operation so far this year, and more than 7,000 immigrant children currently face final orders of removal. Now is the time to ensure that students, schools and communities around the country do not also fall victim to these terrorizing enforcement actions.
Sign the petition to free the North Carolina refugee children.