Biden Considers Detaining Migrant Families Again

President Joe Biden’s administration is considering detaining migrant families who crossed into the United States illegally as it prepares to end COVID-19 restrictions on the US-Mexico border region, according to US officials familiar with the plans. The policy will be a major change once authorities stop holding families in detention facilities in late 2021.

The US is increasingly limiting the number of incoming migrants at a time of booming numbers of people coming to the Mexican border seeking asylum. COVID-era restrictions allowed US immigration officials to quickly turn away most migrants, and during the peak of the pandemic few families were detained.

Under current policy, families arriving at the US-Mexico border are released to the US and asked to appear before an immigration court at a later date.

The government has the capacity to house about 3,000 people in two family detention centers in Texas. Currently, the centers house single adults who cross the border illegally.

Both the Obama and Trump administrations followed a similar policy of detaining migrant families in the facility until their immigration cases were resolved, despite court orders preventing the administration from holding children for more than 20 days. A third such detention center located in Pennsylvania closed months ago.

According to four officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, the decision on the matter is not final. The New York Times first reported that officials were considering reinstating immigrant families. [my/jm]

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