Report: Biden Is Considering Detaining Migrant Families

Border move would be a major reversal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2023 5:07 PM CST
Report: Biden Is Considering Detaining Migrant Families
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a press briefing Tuesday, March 7, 2023.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The Biden administration is considering detaining migrant families who cross into the US illegally as it prepares to end COVID-19 restrictions at the US-Mexico border, according to US officials familiar with the plans. That would be a major reversal after officials in late 2021 stopped holding families in detention facilities. Homeland Security officials are working through how to manage an expected increase of migrants at the border once the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place since 2020 are lifted in May. Detention is one of several ideas under discussion and nothing has been finalized, the officials said.

If families were detained, they would be held for short periods of time, perhaps just a few days, and their cases expedited through immigration court, one official said. The officials were unauthorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on "rumors" that the policy was under consideration. "I’m not saying that it is, I'm not saying that it’s not," she said Tuesday. She refused to say whether President Biden believes that detention of families was humane. "No decisions have been made," but Biden sees "comprehensive immigration reform" as the way forward, she said, per the Hill.

Under current policy, families who arrive at the US-Mexico border are released into the US and told to appear in immigration court at a later date. During the height of the pandemic, few families were held in custody, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are now using those facilities to hold single adults who cross the border illegally. But the US has increasingly moved to restrict migrants as it faces record numbers of people coming to the Mexico border seeking asylum. The suggestion to again detain families was met with disdain from immigration advocates, who point to studies that show how detrimental detention can be for children and families. Many said they were surprised to hear of the possibility because they had been told families would no longer be detained.

(More US-Mexico border stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.