A Washington Post report detailing planned raids to deport hundreds of families who have fled from Central America to the United States illegally has yielded an emotional reaction from the Democratic presidential field.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley both took to Twitter Thursday to condemn the raids, which could start as early as January, sources familiar with the operation told the Post. And a spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton responded in a statement to NBC that the Democratic front-runner has "real concerns."
"Hillary Clinton has real concerns about these reports, especially as families are coming together during this holiday season. She believes it is critical that everyone has a full and fair hearing, and that our country provides refuge to those that need it. And we should be guided by a spirit of humanity and generosity as we approach these issues," the statement from Clinton's campaign read.
Sanders in a statement said he is "disturbed."
"I am very disturbed by reports that the government may commence raids to deport families who have fled here to escape violence in Central America," said Sanders in a statement. "As we spend time with our families this holiday season, we who are parents should ask ourselves what we would do if our children faced the danger and violence these children do? How far would we go to protect them?"
"Our nation has always been a beacon of hope, a refuge for the oppressed," the statement continued. "We cannot turn our backs on that essential element of who we are as a nation. We need to take steps to protect children and families seeking refuge here, not cast them out."
O'Malley, meanwhile, tweeted: "A Christmas Refugee Roundup sounds like something @realDonaldTrump would concoct. Remember: Jesus was a refugee child who fled death gangs."
He later said, "We are a better nation than this."
According to the Post, the planned operation would focus only on adults and children who have already been ordered removed from the U.S. by an immigration judge. That means that hundreds of people, if not more, could be targeted.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has not yet given final approval to the operation, which would be the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence in Central America, the Post reported. More than 100,000 families have made the journey across the southwest border since last year.