US readies push to expel migrants - reports

Washington - American authorities are planning a major operation to round up and expel migrant families living in the country illegally, US media reported on Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security could not confirm - but did not dispute - the anonymously-sourced reports in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and several other outlets.

And spokesperson Gillian Christensen told AFP that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson "has consistently said, our border is not open to illegal immigration".

"If individuals come here illegally, do not qualify for asylum or other relief and have final orders of removal, they will be sent back consistent with our laws and our values," she said, citing Johnson.

According to the Washington Post, the number of mainly Mexican and Central American families targeted in the planned crackdown will be "in the hundreds and possibly greater".

These would be migrants whose applications for asylum have been refused and are subject to a court order to leave.

Any such operation would be controversial.

Refugee rights activists argue that the families are fleeing corruption, violent crime and drought - the Pacific basin is beset by a severe El Nino weather pattern - in their homelands.

Over the course of the 2015 fiscal year, arrests of non-documented migrants crossing the US border from Mexico dropped by a third to the second lowest level since 1972.

The number of children crossing without their relatives - which surged in 2014 amid a deadly crime wave in some parts of Central America - was also down over the period.

But the number of minors and of families crossing began to increase again sharply towards the end of 2015, alarming the Department of Homeland Security.

According to US Customs and Border Protection, arrests of members of "family units" on the US southwest border in October and November - the first two months of the 2016 fiscal year - were up 173% over the same period last year.

Arrests of unaccompanied minors are up 106%.

Immigration is one of the most hotly debated topics in the 2016 US presidential campaign, with Republican hopefuls including Donald Trump vying with each other for who can promise the toughest stance.

President Barack Obama's opponents - some of whom like Trump have demanded a massive border wall be built - will argue that the reported DHS plan is a stop-gap to disguise a broken system.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Who do you think is going to win the 2020 US election?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Biden is going to take it
46% - 4778 votes
It's four more years for Trump
54% - 5696 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
16.52
(-0.21)
ZAR/GBP
21.41
(-0.11)
ZAR/EUR
19.48
(-0.22)
ZAR/AUD
11.64
(+0.08)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(-0.12)
Gold
1899.88
(-0.14)
Silver
24.41
(+4.41)
Platinum
854.00
(+0.06)
Brent Crude
42.85
(-0.67)
Palladium
2331.00
(+0.56)
All Share
55161.03
(+0.21)
Top 40
50741.94
(+0.09)
Financial 15
9977.80
(+3.10)
Industrial 25
74762.95
(-0.61)
Resource 10
54129.95
(-0.07)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo