O’Malley Proposes Extended Temporary Protective Status for Central Americans

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley (File photo)

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley (File photo)

UPDATE, 10:55amET: Hours after O’Malley’s announcement, Bernie Sanders issued his own statement about the deportation raids. The Vermont senator also sent a letter to President Obama.

Last night in Nevada, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley addressed the current plan by the Obama administration to conduct deportation raids on Central Americans who entered the United States after 2014. A tweet by Gabriela Domenzain shared the following from O’Malley:


The Nevada remarks follow what O’Malley said Sunday in Iowa:

What the hell have we come to as a country that you’re talking about rounding up women and children fleeing death gangs at Christmas time?

Even though O’Malley trails a distant third in national polls behind Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the former Maryland governor continues to push the Democratic debate on immigration to the left. Sanders and O’Malley were the only two Democratic candidates to speak forcefully when news of the increased deportations leaked before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, a Clinton campaign spokesperson said Clinton had “real concerns about these reports.”

In addition, several key Democratic leaders have strongly criticized the Obama administration for the new deportation strategy. Yesterday, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Linda T. Sánchez issued this statement:

Raiding people’s homes to forcibly break families apart is not what our country stands for. Our federal government should not be separating parents from their children. As the mother of a young son, it’s easy for me to imagine how traumatizing having ICE agents storm someone’s home and tearing families apart can be for a young child.

Invading homes is inhumane and adds to the trauma of these families fleeing violence and oppression. Many recent immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are escaping one of the most dangerous regions in the world. In the past, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has spoken in defense of the unaccompanied minors fleeing the Central American countries. These minors could be our sons, daughters, nieces and nephews.

As we begin a new session of Congress, we must find a better way to deal with the recently arrived young children and mothers. We must ensure that they are informed of their rights and provided counsel And we must continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform because it’s the only way we will ever truly solve this problem.

On Monday, according to reports, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnst called the administration’s actions “consistent:”

This is consistent with the kinds of priorities that the president himself has talked about; that our enforcement efforts need to be focused on deporting felons, not families, and with a particular focus on individuals who have only recently crossed the border.

However, examination of removal statistics and reports of families being sent home to Central America would confirm that the “deporting felons, not families” narrative has some holes in it. Furthermore, some deportations have been temporarily halted this week due to asylum claims by individuals.