The nation's highest immigration court has delayed the deportations of four families out of hundreds of Central American migrant adults and children rounded up in raids over the New Year's weekend as part of a nationwide effort to combat illegal immigration. Lawyers expect to win a fifth stay today, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Yesterday’s Board of Immigration Appeals decision is a small yet potentially significant breakthrough for lawyers fighting the raids, as it raises questions about Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson's assurances this week that those being deported had exhausted all their legal options.
The families had been scheduled to be deported from the U. S. today to their home countries of El Salvador and Honduras. “What does it mean when we get five out of six cases stayed? That means something is wrong here,” said Laura Lichter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “If there was no case, nothing here, we wouldn't have gotten the stay.” Johnson said 121 people had been taken into custody, mainly in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. The Obama administration operation focused on adults and their children who'd been apprehended as of last spring after crossing the southern border illegally, had been issued orders of removal by an immigration court.