Contact: Ramiro S. Fúnez, 646-923-1858, rfunez@unitehere.org

LOS ANGELES, CA— Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Monday that ICE officials detained 121 adults and children in Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina over New Year’s weekend, all of whom are in the process of being repatriated. In response, UNITE HERE, a union of 270,000 hospitality workers across the U.S. and Canada, joins immigrant advocacy groups nationwide in denouncing the ongoing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation raids directed at refugees from Central America.

“These raids are irrational and inhumane because vulnerable refugees fleeing violence in their home countries are being treated as criminals rather than as victims,” says Maria Elena Durazo, UNITE HERE General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights, and Diversity. “President Obama and his administration should be ashamed for giving ICE a green light to separate and imprison women and children—a practice he claims to be against. Instead, he is only adding to the climate of fear that has been stirred by Trump and other Republican zealots.”

Since 2014, hundreds of thousands of undocumented refugees from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have entered the United States. Those fleeing Central America have cited violence and poverty as the primary reasons for their emigration. Consequently, ICE officials have sent refugee families to detention centers across the country, resulting in the mass separation of mothers from their children. Moreover, many who have entered the country within the last two years have received inadequate access to legal representation and humanitarian relief. Thousands more are expected to be detained and deported throughout the year.

In recent months, UNITE HERE has led a campaign against ICE officials for unjust raids on immigrant workers and their families, in response to arrests and firings of unionized immigrant workers at a meatpacking plant in Mundelein, IL.

“We need ICE out of the workplace and out of our homes,” says Durazo. “Labor leaders, immigrant rights activists and immigrants themselves must come together and demand that President Obama put an immediate end to these unjust attacks on hardworking immigrants and their families.”