Thursday, June 25, 2015

DHS to free illegal immigrant families

In this April 30, 2015 photo, Gladys Pina, 30, from Honduras holds her 8-month old baby girl at a respite center run by Catholic Charities in McAllen, Texas. She was among nearly two-dozen immigrant mothers who arrived at the center after being released by Border Patrol. Rather than getting locked up in a family detention facility, some families are released by Border Patrol with notices to appear in immigration court. (AP Photo/Seth Robbins)
Homeland Security will begin releasing more illegal immigrant families from detention, Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Wednesday as he bowed to political pressure from activists and members of Congress who’d called the conditions inhumane for families.
Despite offering amenities for the illegal immigrants ranging from flat-screen televisions in every suite, classrooms and ball fields at their disposal and 24-hour access to snacks and sodas, Mr. Johnson said he’s concluded things are still too harsh.
He said illegal immigrant parents and children who claim they fear for their lives back home will now have the chance to post a “reasonable and realistic” bond that will earn them the right to be released into the U.S., with the hope that they eventually return for their deportation hearings.
“In substance — the detention of families will be short-term in most cases,” he said in a statement announcing the changes.
It’s a major reversal for Mr. Johnson, who just a year ago pointed to detaining families as one of the key steps he was taking to push back against the surge of illegal immigrant children and families from Central America.
It also comes as new data shows those released from detention almost never show up for their court hearings or to be deported, meaning that any of those families later deemed deportable will likely be difficult to round up.
Mr. Johnson’s move met with praise from immigrant-rights advocates, who called it a “first step” but said they still want to see the detention centers shut down altogether, and all families released out into the community.
Top congressional Republicans, meanwhile, said Mr. Obama is only making illegal immigration worse.
“By refusing to detain unlawful immigrants until their claims are proven legitimate, the Obama administration is practically guaranteeing that they will disappear into our communities and never be removed from the United States,” said Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

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