ICE to Start Releasing Children, Women from Immigration Detention

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Migrant women and children in a detention facility in McAllen, Texas - PHOTO: HECTOR SILVA, CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION
  • Photo: Hector Silva, Customs and Border Protection
  • Migrant women and children in a detention facility in McAllen, Texas

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has begun reviewing cases of immigrant children and women, who are in detention while seeking for asylum or other relief to remain the U.S. legally.

"Going forward, ICE will generally not detain mothers with children, absent a threat to public safety or national security, if they have received a positive finding for credible or reasonable fear and the individual has provided a verifiable residential address," Richard Rocha, a spokesman for ICE, said in a statement, according to the Huffington Post. 

A couple of months ago, more than a hundred Democratic Congress members told the Department of Homeland Security that they were deeply concerned about the consequences of detaining women and children. In a letter, they told DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson that the jail-like facilities were troublesome, with "conditions of confinement, issues of due process and serious developmental and medical concerns."

"DHS has not fully grasped the serious harm being inflicted upon mothers and children in custody," the letter said. 

Then in June, Johnson said the department needed to make "substantial changes" to its family and children detention practices. He proposed releasing families who post bond (that are realistic and reasonable, he said) or meet other conditions for release.

(Even the New York Times editorial board called on the government to stop detaining families.)

There will be three facilities—two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania—that will continue to detain women and children who are recently apprehended or who are denied release, the Huffington Post write up said. 

Last year, about 70,000 of mostly Central American women and children were apprehended in the U.S.-Mexico border, something President Obama called a humanitarian crisis. Many of them are fleeing gang and drug violence or extreme poverty in their native countries. 

Here's a great mini doc by VICE that follows Central Americans as they cross into Mexico and then the U.S. These are the dangers these women and youth face when they decide to come North.


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