Credo Action

Tell President Obama: Protect refugees fleeing violence in Central America

Sign the petition

The petition to President Obama says:

"Take comprehensive action to protect refugees fleeing violence in Central America. Halt detention and deportation of Central American refugees, implement Temporary Protected Status for the Northern Triangle countries and ensure that individuals and families in need of protection have full access to legal counsel, protection and asylum."

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    Tell President Obama: Protect refugees fleeing violence in Central America

    There is a refugee crisis on America’s southern border.

    For the past several years, thousands of people, including families and hundreds of children traveling alone, have fled devastating violence in Central America to seek safety in the United States. The Obama administration has paid lip service to the horrors driving refugees north, but too often it has treated these same people like criminals by detaining and deporting them without due process. President Obama needs to do better.

    Tell President Obama: Protect refugees fleeing violence in Central America.

    Recently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained six teenagers in North Carolina (the NC6), some as they were on their way to school.1 The NC6 came to the United States as children in need of asylum, but instead of treating them like refugees, ICE treated them like criminals and detained them in maximum security facilities. ICE released three of them after intense community pushback, but is still threatening all six young people with deportation.2

    While the president claims he is concerned about Central American refugees, his administration is failing them. ICE is flouting the president’s enforcement priorities by targeting women and children who should be treated like refugees, not criminals. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is failing to ensure that refugees get adequate legal representation as they navigate the complicated asylum process. And, President Obama himself is not using his executive authority to grant asylum seekers protection from deportation.

    Over the past two years, more than 112,000 families and unaccompanied children had no lawyers for their deportation proceedings.3 Asylum seekers who are represented by counsel are 12 times more likely to be granted asylum, and children with attorneys are five times more likely to be granted protection.4 On the other hand, 90 percent of children without attorneys are ordered to be deported back to countries where their lives might literally be in danger because they are navigating one of the most complicated immigrant court systems in the world without even basic support.5

    President Obama has repeatedly claimed that he wants to focus detention and deportation priorities on criminals, not families and children. But at the same time, he’s supporting programs, like DHS's Operation Border Guardian, which thrust asylum seekers into the detention and deportation pipeline. Border Guardian is the program that ensnared the NC6 as well as more than 300 other young people since the beginning of 2016.6 It allows ICE to detain and deport young people over the age of 18 who entered the United States as children but failed to win asylum status. It’s a clear violation of the president’s deportation priorities, but the president and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson continue to support it. We need to pressure them to reverse course.

    Tell President Obama: Protect refugees fleeing violence in Central America.

    In addition to ensuring that refugees receive due process in immigration proceedings and ending DHS programs that target asylum seekers, President Obama can use his executive authority to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to refugees who flee violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – the countries known as the Northern Triangle. TPS provides protection from deportation to those who have fled extreme conditions in their home country and cannot return.7 Taking that humanitarian step is the only way to truly ensure that all Central American refugees are protected from being deported to their death.

    President Obama has made some efforts to support Central American refugees, but it’s not enough, especially not when the president already has the worst deportation record in our history.8 On this humanitarian issue, the president and our country can do more and set a better example for the world.

    Our activism works. Last summer, when CREDO members, along with our allies in the progressive movement, spoke out forcefully against the right-wing’s racist attacks on Syrian refugees, we blocked Republican extremists in Congress from passing xenophobic, anti-refugee legislation. Now it’s the refugees from Central America who need our public support. That’s why we must speak up today to protect Central American refugees.

    Tell President Obama: Protect refugees fleeing violence in Central America.

    Thanks for taking action.


    1. Mark Price, ”Charlotte immigrant teens at center of controversial ICE arrests”, The Charlotte Observer, March 11, 2016.
    2. ibid.
    3. Julianne Hing, “What’s the Difference Between a Refugee and a Deportee? A Lawyer.’, The Nation, Feb. 13, 2016.
    4. “Featured Issue: Counsel in Immigration Court”, American Immigration Lawyers Association, Aug. 3, 2016.
    5. “Sign-on letter to President Obama RE: Operation Border Guardian”, ACLU, March 30, 2016.
    6. “What is Operation Border Guardian?”, Rewire, Aug. 24, 2016.
    7. Temporary Protected Status, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Sept. 21, 2016.
    8. Tim Rogers, “Obama has deported more immigrants than any other president. Now he’s running up the score.”, Fusion, Jan. 7, 2016.