Washington, DC, United States (NewsBahn) – President Donald Trump has warned that Central American families are staging an “invasion” at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has threatened to take migrants to Democratic strongholds to punish political opponents. And his administration regularly complains about having to “catch and release” migrants.
At the same time, his administration has stopped using one of three family detention centers to hold parents and children and left almost 2,000 beds unused at the other two. It says it does not have the resources to transport migrants to the centers.
Immigrant advocates accuse the administration of closing off family detention to further the perception of a crisis.
The Karnes County Residential Center in Texas used to hold up to 800 parents and children at a time, who would usually be detained before an initial screening to judge whether they qualified for asylum.
But ICE last month started to release families until they were all gone from Karnes. Advocates who work there say ICE is now restricting legal access to the roughly 400 adult women being detained there.
The population at the family detention center in nearby Dilley, Texas, was also reduced and remains at roughly a quarter of its 2,400-person capacity. A 96-person facility in Pennsylvania had only 18 immigrants this week.
Meanwhile, the numbers of parents and children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border have surged, leading immigration officials to declare the situation a crisis. More than 50,000 parents and children were apprehended by the Border Patrol in March, setting a monthly record.
The number of border crossings in one day sometimes exceeds ICE’s total family detention space.
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