The Obama administration has announced it will further scale back the detention of families who arrive illegally at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I have reached the conclusion that we must make substantial changes in our detention practices with respect to families with children,” said Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security, in a statement on the DHS website. “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.”
The move was a concession to Democrats in Congress and lobbying interests pushing for open-borders, according to a release by Numbers USA, which advocates against illegal immigration.
The new rule applies to all those who illegally crossed the border as family units.
“More than 96 of the border surge arrivals over the last 10 months are still here,” Stephen Miller, press secretary for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told WND. “Apparently this administration believes that figure to be too low.”
Johnson’s announcement comes despite a Fox News report earlier this week that 84 percent of Central American families who were released during last year’s border surge failed to appear before a judge at their scheduled asylum hearings.
Watch the Fox News report below:
But the June 24 announcement by Johnson was not enough to satisfy the open-borders groups.
The group Detention Watch Network, for example, issued a statement saying the Obama administration had “responded to mounting pressure from advocates, legal service providers, faith communities, and three quarters of the president’s own party in Congress by offering a list of incremental and insufficient reforms to family detention.”
Mary Small, policy director at Detention Watch, issued the following statement:
“The Department of Homeland Security’s announcement today that they will more regularly review detention decisions and consider more families for release is a hollow response to the simple truth that the practice of family detention is unlawful, dangerous and must be permanently and immediately ended.
“Family detention jeopardizes the well-being of women and children and is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. The fact that our already-sprawling detention system is being expanded by targeting families seeking asylum is unconscionable.
“The announcement today offers nothing more than basic protections that should be provided to everyone. We will continue to press the Obama administration and Department of Homeland Security to end the policy of family detention and permanently close these facilities.”
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. According to a Numbers USA report, 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.”
Democrats express ‘outrage,’ Republicans quiet
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.
The Center for Immigration Studies reported that 84 percent of adult Central American illegal immigrants with children who were not detained failed to show up at their court hearings, and 3.9 percent deported themselves voluntarily. Among those who spent at least some time in detention, the percentage who did not show up for their immigration hearing was much lower, at 29 percent.
“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,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for CIS, told Fox News.
Dan Cadman, a research fellow at CIS, says the detention of illegals is absolutely “legal” and for good reason.
The administration’s policies to minimize the use of detention for families may lead prospective illegal crossers to use children as shields to gain release after apprehension, putting the children in danger in the process, he said in the new report, “Why Alien Detention is Necessary.”
Detention also serves public safety, according to Cadman’s report, because many of those taken into custody for illegally crossing the border are convicted criminals. Once released, many become repeat offenders in U.S. cities and towns.
“There is a full-court press going on to dismantle the detention system used to hold aliens for immigration proceedings and, ultimately, removal when it is ordered,” Cadman writes. “The dismantling effort has many fronts. They include steps taken by the government itself; lawsuits by advocacy groups critical of detention; quasi-scholarly reports; and a concerted media campaign to sway public opinion.”
Dems, GOP have same immigration policies, activist says
The large percentage of illegals not showing up for court under Obama is consistent with the numbers from the Bush administration’s similar catch-and-release policies, said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC ,or ALIPAC.
He believes Republican leaders in Congress are just as much to blame for Obama’s immigration policies.
“While Jeh Johnson may have been encouraged to reduce detentions of illegals by Democrats, the Obama administration is being facilitated by the GOP leadership and other [George] Soros-serving Republican lawmakers that are failing to offer Americans any true opposition to Obama. The grim reality is that most of the GOP candidates for president such as Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee would all engage in similar executive action amnesties for illegals like Obama if elected.”
Gheen believes the time has come for conservatives to break from the Democrat-Republican paradigm that has dominated American politics for well over a century.
If a new conservative party is formed, he said adherence to the platform should be mandatory for all candidates running under its banner.
“If the Republican Party platform were actually binding, then Republicans would offer America a true choice against illegal immigration and amnesty,” he said. “What America needs is a new Republican Party, but one where the GOP platform is binding for candidates or they are kicked out like John McCain and Lindsey Graham should have been booted out long ago for supporting amnesty for illegals.”
Approximately 450,000 people entered the U.S. illegally last year, and another 1.1 million enter legally, making for the most robust immigration policy of any nation in the world.
CIS has advocated for scaling back legal immigration to about 250,000 per year, which is a level more in tune with American immigration before the 1970s.
A record-high 43.1 million immigrants now live in the United States. The U.S. attracts about 20 percent of the world’s international migrants, even as it represents less than 5 percent of the global population, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
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 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 time frame.” The measures seek to ensure “the detention of families will be short-term in most cases.”
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.