“Dear Santa, I am seven years old. I want freedom so I can be with my aunts and uncles. I don’t want to go back to my country. And I also want a remote control airplane.”
This is a letter written by one of 19 children, ages 2-9 from Central American now in custody of ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in PA. According to the Guardian, the families who entered the US illegally and are held at an immigration detention center have all been issued expedited deportation orders, but those are on hold pending a legal challenge against the terms of their removal. An appeal to the US Supreme Court is expected within the month. The Obama administration says it cannot release the families because of the stay on deportations in the case. But immigration rights groups argue there is nothing preventing ICE from releasing the mothers and children, as they are legally obliged to do, pending resolution of the challenge. They point out that the government is in breach of a federal court ruling, Flores v Lynch, which gives immigrant children detained with their mother’s equal rights to those detained alone. That puts ICE under an obligation to release the children into the care of outside relatives or groups without any delay. For two and a half years President Obama and his administration have been insistent on detaining children. The palpable anger and frustration felt towards the Obama administration is intensified now with the victory of Donald Trump and his threats to round up and deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
Not so Merry a Christmas for them.