Pushed by Democratic Members of Congress and special interest groups, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson today announced DHS would further limit the detention of those who illegally crossed the border as family units. Johnson's announcement comes despite a FOX News report this week indicating that 84 percent of Central American families who were released during last year’s border surge failed to appear in court.
In a statement Johnson said, “I have reached the conclusion that we must make substantial changes in our detention practices with respect to families with children. In short, once a family has established eligibility for asylum or other relief under our laws, long-term detention is an inefficient use of our resources and should be discontinued.”
After the border surge spiked last year the Administration adopted a “catch-and-release” policy for woman who crossed the border illegally with their children. They were escorted to a bus station and released with a ticket to their destination and an order to show up for a court hearing. Public opposition to the policy forced the Administration to increase its detention capacity and hold some of the family units. But the effort outraged Democrats in Congress and special interest groups.
In May of this year, the Administration announced that ICE would begin to review cases of illegal-alien families who were held beyond 90 days to evaluate whether further detention was appropriate pending their asylum application. ICE also discontinued a general deterrence policy where the custody of minors was in dispute, and sought to “ensure access to counsel, attorney-client meeting rooms, social workers, educational services, comprehensive medical care, and continuous monitoring of the overall conditions at these centers.”
Today’s announcement offers detention release with “an appropriate monetary bond or other condition of release to families at residential centers who are successful in stating a case of credible or reasonable fear of persecution in their home countries.” Johnson also has told USCIS to “conduct credible fear and reasonable fear interviews within a reasonable timeframe.” The measures seek to ensure “the detention of families will be short-term in most cases.”
FOX News obtained statistics from the Department of Justice Executive Office of Immigration Review that show “84 percent of [Central American illegal-alien] adults with children who were allowed to remain free pending trial absconded, and fewer than 4 percent deported themselves voluntarily.”
Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, told FOX, "That strategy is obviously a complete failure because such a high percentage of these people who were not detained have simply melted into the larger illegal population and have no fear of immigration enforcement.”
FOX concluded illegal aliens opt not to show up for their asylum hearing because they are unlikely to be removed from the U.S. given the Administration’s non-deportation policies and the proliferation of sanctuary policies around the country.
A new report by Dan Cadman at the Center for Immigration Studies found that foregoing detention has resulted in more than 900,000 alien fugitives who failed to attend their court hearings or refused to report for removal in accordance with a judge’s order. That population equates to about one in 12 illegal aliens.
Cadman said, “The Secretary may think he has disposed of the issue of family detention and obviated ongoing federal litigation related to the issue, but he hasn’t. Given the no-show rates at court hearings of families, many will be ordered deported in absentia, and sooner or later they will be picked up by immigration agents. At this point the aliens will have shown they cannot be trusted to appear for removal, so detention will almost certainly be the only recourse if they are truly to be removed as ordered by the immigration judge.”
Updated: Wed, Oct 11th 2017 @ 3:11pm EDT