Once inside, they told her to get her kids together and go with them.
Immigration law is often compared to tax law for its levels of complexity and there are a number of legitimate grounds for applying for USA residency.
While past deportation efforts have focused on adults at places of employment, Johnson said the weekend's operations were an effort to deport higher numbers of adults who entered the US illegally with children.
Those detained were expected to be held at family residential centers for processing before being repatriated to their home countries. Hillary Clinton "has real concerns" about these raids, spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said. Most Latinos here have Mexican roots, with a smaller share from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, among other Latin American countries.
An ICE official contacted by The Elkhart Truth countered talk of activity by the federal agency in Elkhart County, which has a sizable population of immigrants and Hispanic people. The Obama administration called the influx a humanitarian crisis and said the children should have an opportunity to plead their case for refugee status because of the raging violence they were escaping. Vice Minister Oscar Padilla said that starting Monday, consulates would be interviewing and reviewing the cases of citizens on deportation lists to ensure that each has an order signed by a judge.
More than 100,000 adults and their children have illegally entered the US from Central America since a year ago.
"It's beyond shameful that these families, who risked everything to seek protection in the United States, were being forcibly returned to the violence and turmoil they fled in Central America", said Katie Shepherd, the managing attorney of a pro bono family detention project, in a statement this morning.
Once immigrants open the door, federal officials are free to question and detain not only those they came for, but others who happen to be home, Jimenez said. Gutierrez told the Times the ICE raid woke her children, who were "shaking from fear" as the Mejias were taken into custody.
Johnson declared that recent border crossers who have entered the USA illegally since May 2014 are an enforcement priority, along with convicted criminals and threats to public safety.
In a detailed statement on Monday, Jeh C. Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security emphasized that the raids by ICE, a part of Homeland Security, should have come "as no surprise".
News of the raids has generated fear and confusion, he said.
The unauthorized immigrants were arrested after May 2014, have been issued final deportation orders by an immigration court, have exhausted all legal remedies and have no outstanding appeals or claims for asylum, according to the Department of Homeland Security. "I beg President Obama to put his hand over his heart and not do this", she said, "for the sake of the children".
In Dallas, immigration activist Greisa Martinez said she spent the break counseling her mother on what to do if immigration agents came looking for her. The moment was especially hard, Martinez said, because they had spent the previous Christmas break celebrating President Obama's new program to protect up to 4.5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. That means they didn't appear for court hearings and that is why a judge had issued a removal order.
Numerous families have had no access to a lawyer in their asylum proceedings, so they might have failed to accurately present their cases while actually qualifying for asylum, she added. On Saturday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the Norcross, Georgia home of Honduran asylum seeker Joanna Gutierrez, arriving in unmarked vehicles and presenting a warrant for a man she did not know before searching the residence and arresting her niece, 30-year-old Ana Lizet Mejia, and Mejia's 9-year-old son.