California residents may have heard about the immigrant families that have been held at the three family immigration detention facilities in Pennsylvania and Texas. For months, immigration attorneys and advocates have urged the Obama administration to release mothers and children from the facilities and end the practice of family detention altogether. On July 13, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that ICE would start releasing women and children from the detention centers after reviewing their cases.
According to the ICE spokesman, the agency will have a new policy of refraining from detaining mothers with children who are seeking asylum in the United States. ICE said that it would still detain mothers with children if they presented a threat to public safety or national security. To avoid detention, mothers would also have to show that they have a credible case for asylum and a verifiable address.
The three family immigration detention facilities will remain open while women and children who have not been approved for release are still being detained. Although family immigrant detention was an uncommon practice during the majority of President Obama's tenure, the surge of asylum cases from Central America last year resulted in the opening of two new detention facilities. Immigration authorities apprehended an estimated 70,000 families that had crossed over the U.S.-Mexico border last year.
Immigration attorneys may be able to help advocate for an immigrant who is being held in detention. After arguing for a client's release from an immigration detention facility, a lawyer could help build a strong case for asylum.
Source: Huffington Post, "ICE Begins Freeing More Mothers, Children From Immigrant Detention," Elise Foley, July 13, 2015