Sanders to Obama: End immigration raids 'immediately'
© Getty Images
 
"Raids are not the answer," Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, wrote in a letter Thursday to Obama. " I urge you to immediately cease these raids and not deport families back to countries where a death sentence awaits." 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The administration's announcement earlier this week that it had arrested immigrants deemed ineligible for asylum status has sparked anger among congressional Democrats, who have accused the president of tearing apart families and ignoring safety concerns. The immigrants are expected to be deported, largely back to Central America. 
 
Sanders said the administration should instead extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to immigrants from the region, suggesting their lives could be at risk if they are forced to return. Extending TPS would allow the immigrants to avoid deportation. 
 
The Guardian reported last year that since early 2014, as many as 83 immigrants denied asylum in the United States and forced to return to Central American countries have been killed. 

The administration has argued that it's simply following the law, after the Department of Homeland Security adopted guidelines that prioritized deportation cases for those immigrants entering the country illegally after Jan. 1, 2014. 

Sanders said the administration needs to show "compassion" for the immigrants and "cannot continue to employ inhumane tactics involving rounding up and deporting tens of thousands of immigrant families."
 
He also sent a copy of the letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Sarah Saldana, the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
 
Sanders isn't the only Democratic presidential candidate to criticize the raids. Both former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonWant a tremendous deal on infrastructure spending? Suspend Davis-Bacon Constitutional amendment could vastly improve campaign finance The Hill's Whip List: Who to watch on GOP's new ObamaCare bill MORE have also raised concerns about the administration's strategy. 
 
O'Malley sent a letter to Johnson late last month and used a speech in Nevada on Wednesday evening to criticize the raids and call for the administration to extend TPS to the immigrants.
 
Meanwhile, Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for the Clinton campaign, said late last month that Clinton has "real concerns" about the crackdown and that "it is critical that everyone has a full and fair hearing, and that our country provides refuge to those that need it."