Biden administration releases families from migration centers
The Biden government will convert two facilities in Texas housing detained migrant families into Ellis Island-style rapid processing centers. This means that adults and children crossing the border will be accommodated for a maximum of 72 hours before they are released to the United States.
In a lawsuit on Friday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that families will continue to be detained at a 2,400-bed detention center in Karnes City and an 839-bed detention center in Dilley, Texas. However, the US government intends to detain adults and children in these locations for three days or less.
Migrant families previously held at a third facility, the 96-bed detention center for families in Berks County in Leesport, Pennsylvania, have all been released, the ICE announced on Friday in Flores’ decade-long lawsuit on behalf of migrant children . This internment camp is instead used by ICE to take in adults.
All three family detention centers opened when President Biden was Vice President of President Barack Obama. While running for president, Biden pledged to release imprisoned families.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has tentative plans to convert the two South Texas facilities into high-speed processing centers aiming to screen 100 families a day, the Washington Post reported, citing internal emails that had not previously been published Changes were set out.
The number of unaccompanied minors and families arriving at the US-Mexico border this year “is expected to be the highest number in over 20 years,” ICE senior official Russell Hott wrote in an email the staff on Thursday.
Even if the two South Texas facilities are converted into high-speed processing centers, that may not be enough to keep up with fears, Hott warned in the post-checked email. And those who cannot be accommodated in these centers for even 72 hours are taken to nearby hotels.
ICE contractor MVM will transport families that cannot be accommodated at these facilities to hotels, and the company plans to select hotels in McAllen, El Paso and Phoenix, Arizona, Hott wrote.
The detention centers in Dilley and Karnes will serve as rapid admission facilities where unaccompanied minors and families will be subjected to background checks and released prior to preliminary trials, unnamed DHS officials told Post. Some migrants would sign up for alternatives to incarceration, such as ankle monitoring programs.
Anyone who tests positive would be quarantined for 10 days, officials said. Nonprofit partners worked to organize flight and bus tickets to their final US destinations, often to stay with family members or friends while they awaited their court hearings.
In a comment published by Fox News on Friday, Thomas Homan, former acting director of ICE under the Trump administration, argued that Biden’s team caused a crisis on the border in “record time” by using the Trump administration’s achievements within the first ended 40 days since the inauguration day.
Homan said illegal crossings on the southern border were at all-time lows when Trump stepped down, a feat achieved in part through agreements with Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. He attributed the Remain in Mexico program to Trump as well as the border wall to slow down illegal entry into the United States and the title 42, according to which most illegal aliens would have to return to Mexico immediately due to the COVID pandemic.
Homan said Biden’s withdrawal of most Trump policies “facilitates illegal entry” into the US. The Biden administration has also been criticized by Republicans for considering changing the names of some facilities on the border to “reception centers” in order to convey a message that people will be released quickly, the Washington Examiner reported.
Lawyers working with imprisoned immigrant families welcomed the new 72-hour layoff plans and attributed the announcement of the shift to the Biden government. They found that even shorter detention periods could be harmful to children.
“Family detention will never really end until the facilities are closed and the contracts with ICE end,” Bridget Cambria, executive director of the legal group Aldea – The People’s Justice Center, told The Associated Press.
The Biden government has released several asylum-seeking families who had been detained in Texas for a year or more, and in some cases arrived within hours of deportation. These families will follow up on their cases and will remain under ICE surveillance.
In his early days, Biden faced increasing numbers of families and unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, resulting in a lack of space in Border Patrol cells and long-term children’s facilities operated by Health and Human Services. In the Border Patrol case, hundreds of children have been detained for more than 72 hours in the past few weeks. This is the general limit set in the agency’s standards.
Biden stopped the practice initiated by former President Donald Trump of deporting unaccompanied immigrant children under public health supervision. Officials have expelled thousands of children to their countries of origin without giving them the opportunity to apply for asylum or other protection under federal law.
The Biden government continues to expel immigrant families and adults.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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