A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson announced on July 13 that the release of women and children from immigrant detention centers in Pennsylvania and Texas was set to begin. The agency has come under fire from Democratic legislators, attorneys and immigration advocates over conditions at the three centers. The number of detainees in the centers swelled in 2014 when thousands of women and children were detained after being apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border. The families had entered the United States after fleeing dangerous conditions in Central America.
According to the ICE statement, mothers with children will generally no longer be subjected to immigration detention as long as they pose no threat to public safety and can provide a verifiable address. Families will also be required to substantiate claims that they fled their home countries due to safety concerns.
Critics of the detention centers welcomed the announcement, but they feel that more needs to be done. Some critics have said that the bonds detainees are required to post prior to release are an unfair burden, but Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson vowed that these bonds will henceforth be realistic and reasonable. The centers will remain open, and the number of detainees housed in them could swell once again if the U.S.-Mexico border sees another large increase in immigration activity.
The threat of detention or deportation can be harrowing for those hoping to build a new life in America, and seemingly minor mistakes or documentation errors could have serious consequences. Experienced immigration attorneys could explain the steps involved in contesting the deportation process, and they could advocate on behalf of immigrants facing deportation during immigration hearings. An attorney could seek to prevent deportation based on factors such as an immigrant’s work history, moral character and the length of time living in the United States.