Thursday, July 30, 2015

It's Been a Bad Week for Facilities Detaining Migrant Families

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 1:31 PM

The reputation of some immigration detention facilities is getting worse—way worse.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus and Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee held a forum Tuesday on family detention, where there were testimonies from immigrant women who were detained, and a former lead social worker at one of the Texas detention centers (all making some serious allegations) and two experts who spoke about the psychological, developmental and legal implications of family detention policies. 

Here's the video from the forum, if you are interested:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
A few days prior, a federal judge in California ruled that the detention of children and mothers caught crossing the border illegally is in "serious violation of a longstanding court settlement, and that the families should be released as quickly as possible," according to an article by the New York Times. The ruling from Friday found the two detention centers the Obama administration opened in Texas last summer fail to meet the "minimum legal requirements of the 1997 settlement for facilities housing children," and that migrant kids had been apprehended in "widespread deplorable conditions."

The Obama administration now has until Aug. 3 to show the federal judge why they shouldn't be held up to standards for detaining migrant children per the 1997 legal settlement. This case could potentially end family detention.

Earlier this week, the LA Times published an article on pro-bono attorneys for immigrants detained at the two largest immigrant family detention centers—located in Texas—alleging they were "locked out" of the detention centers after they raised concerns that officials at were forcing immigrant mothers the lawyers represent to sign legal papers without being able to consult their attorneys. 

Here's an excerpt from the LA Times article:
On Monday, four national immigration lawyers groups working at the two newer, larger detention centers south of San Antonio in Dilley and Karnes City, Texas, sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement demanding it “account for the cascade of due process violations and detrimental practices.”

The groups that wrote to ICE include Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), the American Immigration Council, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) and the American Immigration Lawyers Assn. (AILA). They jointly provide legal services to mothers and children detained at the Texas detention centers through the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project.

CARA lead attorney Brian Hoffman said that in recent weeks, staff and volunteers have witnessed ICE officials “coercing women into accepting ankle monitors, denying access to legal counsel and impeding pro bono representation, along with mass disorganization and confusion in implementing the new release policy for mothers who fled violence and who are pursuing protection in the United States.”

Gillian Christensen, ICE press secretary, said the agency would review the claims and "respond directly to AILA."

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