Homeland Security Secretary Announces Changes to Family Detention Policies
Washington D.C. - Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson released a statement on plans to make “substantial changes” to the agency’s family detention policies. The following is a statement, in response, from Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council.
“The United States has a long, proud history of being a beacon of hope and refuge to people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. The act of coming to the United States to seek protection is not illegal or criminal. Not only do our laws ensure that those fleeing persecution may apply for asylum, but the United States has entered into treaties with other countries to ensure the protection of refugees. Offering protections to those who arrive here seeking asylum is who we are as a nation. Yet, for the past year, the Obama Administration has treated thousands of women and children asylum seekers arriving at our borders as criminals. They have been locked up in remote detention facilities run by private prison corporations, at great financial and human cost. Through our legal work on the ground, we have witnessed first-hand how little due process and compassion is being afforded to the women and children in our care.
“Today, Secretary Johnson announced a new family detention policy that we hope represents a major step toward ensuring a fair process for those families seeking protection in the United States. According to the Secretary, the agency will work toward ending long-term detention of families by implementing a plan to quickly process families seeking asylum and then to release them on 'appropriate' bonds or other conditions while they await their hearings in immigration court. We look forward to seeing the details of this plan and will watch closely to see how the plan is implemented.
“Unfortunately, the Secretary continues to express the Administration's belief that family detention can be justified and reformed. It cannot. Family detention is unjust, inhumane and incompatible with our nation’s values and our international obligations. While we welcome today’s announcement, we will continue to advocate for ending the practice of jailing asylum seekers.”
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