Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie SandersBernie SandersWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Jayapal says tuition-free community college 'probably won't' be in spending plan Progressives see budget deal getting close after Biden meeting MORE on Thursday slammed a new round of reported raids by the Obama administration to deport those in the United States illegally.
“I oppose the painful and inhumane business of locking up and deporting families who have fled horrendous violence in Central America and other countries," Sanders said in a statement from his campaign.
"Sending these people back into harm’s way is wrong," he added.
Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump defends indicted GOP congressman GOP lawmaker says he expects to be indicted over FBI investigation Why it's time for conservatives to accept the 2020 election results and move on MORE, the Democratic front-runner, also voiced opposition to the raids while touting proposals to provide unaccompanied minors access to counsel and calling for "a comprehensive plan to stop the root causes of violence in Central America and expand orderly resettlement programs."
"I'm against large scale raids that tear families apart and sow fear in communities," she said in a statement.
"Families fleeing violence in Central America must be given a full opportunity to seek relief. And we need to take special care of children," she said.
"Large scale raids are not productive and do not reflect who we are as a country," she added.
Democrats on Capitol Hill and other immigration activists also blasted the raids reportedly taking place in the coming weeks that are expected to target women and children from Central America who have already been told to leave the U.S.
“We believe deportation targets should be felons, not families," Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) and Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) said in a joint statement.
"If the news is accurate, it is a very bad sign that the Obama Administration has not listened to us after months of urging them to adopt a refugee approach with other Western Hemisphere nations," they said.
"To conduct these types of enforcement actions against women and children who have fled violence and who will face violence if they are returned, it is not just hypocritical—it is plain cruel," the lawmakers added.
The trio indicated it has reached out to the White House and Department of Homeland Security for more information on the reported raids.
"The Administration's enforcement-centered approach is doomed to fail because it misdiagnoses the reasons most people are fleeing," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice.
"If the choice for a young mother or a teenage boy or girl is death at home or a dangerous journey to the U.S.-Mexico border, no amount of deterrence, detention and deportation will stop them from making the journey," he added.
Pili Tobar, spokewoman for Latino Victory Project, called the reported raids "outrageous.”
"These families are seeking refuge and safety, and instead of being a beacon of light and an example for the world, we are terrorizing them."
Reuters reported Thursday that U.S. immigration officials are planning to conduct raids in May and June to deport hundreds of individuals originally from Central America, focusing on mothers and children who've been asked to leave.
The Obama administration caught flak early this year from Sanders and other Democrats following raids in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina that led to 121 individuals being apprehended in an effort curb illegal migration to the U.S.
A wave of migrants from Central America entering the U.S. in 2014 strained resources of the federal government, but some Democrats have pushed back on the tactics employed by the administration.
Sanders on Thursday recalled meeting a Salvadoran woman fleeing to the U.S. at age 15 amid efforts by gangs to recruit her, as well as speaking with children who live "in daily fear that their parents will be taken away."
“I urge President Obama to use his executive authority to protect families by extending Temporary Protective Status for those who fled from Central America," Sanders said.
— This post was updated at 6:55 p.m.