U.S. weighing reviving long-term detention of migrant families with children

The Biden administration is considering reinstating the practice of holding migrant families with children in long-term detention facilities as it prepares for the end of pandemic-era border restrictions in early May, three sources familiar with the internal deliberations tell CBS News. The proposal, the sources said, is one of several policy options being considered at a high level by senior White House and Department of Homeland Security officials in preparation for an expected increase in migration along the U.S.-Mexico border beginning on May 11, when the Title 42 migrant expulsion policy is set to end with the expiration of the national COVID-19 public health emergency. The move would allow the U.S. government to resume the practice of detaining migrant parents and minor children in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities while asylum officers determine whether they should be allowed to seek U.S. refuge. That practice, first implemented at scale by the Obama administration and expanded by the Trump administration, was discontinued in 2021 by the Biden administration, which converted the two migrant family detention facilities in Texas into rapid processing hubs and detention sites for single adults. If approved, the reinstatement of the family detention policy would be a major reversal by President Biden, whose administration has recently sought to stiffen border enforcement amid mass migration in the Western Hemisphere. As part of multiple promises to replace hardline Trump administration border policies with a “humane” approach to migration, Mr. Biden vowed to end the prolonged detention of migrant families. In response to the proposal, which was first reported by The New York Times on Monday, Department of Homeland Security spokesperson Luis Miranda said no final decisions had been made. “The Administration will continue to prioritize safe, orderly, and humane processing of migrants,” Miranda added in a statement. A Biden administration official said any detention of families with children would comply with a court consent decree known as the Flores agreement that governs the detention of minors in U.S. immigration custody. As part of the litigation surrounding this case, the government generally has to release migrant families within 20 days. The official said the families would undergo an expedited process under a proposed regulation that will make it harder for non-Mexican migrants to secure U.S. asylum. That rule is slated to be finalized before Title 42’s termination.

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