As the Biden administration prepares for the end of Title 42 later this spring, it is weighing whether to revive the practice of detaining migrant families who enter the U.S. illegally. The administration had shut down this policy over the past two years on humanitarian grounds, but now it’s exploring more restrictive measures in an effort to handle a rise in migrants fleeing authoritarian governments and economic ruin in their countries.
Title 42, a Trump-era “public health order” which restricted immigration during the COVID-19 pandemic by authorizing the rapid expulsion of migrants, is scheduled to end May 11. With its end, the White House expects an increase of people attempting to cross the southern border. This comes at a time when border crossings are already high.
As the White House deliberates ways to discourage border crossings, it says that if it does reinstate the practice of detaining families at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, detentions would be short. Processing for those detained would comply with federal standards, which include a 20-day cap on the amount of time families are held.
Why is migrant family detention being considered?
This development is part of a larger crackdown on migrant border crossings. Biden has increasingly turned to tougher border enforcement measures in recent months; the administration already announced a new proposal to restrict asylum access at the southern border.
Immigration advocates’ concerns about immigration detention for families
Immigration advocates are raising a red flag over this potential development. Family detention can have unintended consequences, such as encouraging families to send their children over the border alone, since unaccompanied minors are treated differently. In addition, advocates are dubious that family detention policies could even be properly in place as early as May 11, since family detention centers are required to have certain features like classrooms and playgrounds, and many facilities formerly designated for children have been since turned over for adult use.
A federal judge had initially ruled that the Title 42 restriction be lifted by December 2022, finding it “arbitrary and capricious,” with minimal public health impact. But a group of mostly Republican-led states appealed, and the matter is now pending before SCOTUS.
Don’t wait to involve an immigration lawyer
Reeves Immigration Law Group has served immigrants and their loved ones for 40 years. If you are concerned about your legal rights or have questions, our team of California immigration lawyers can provide expert advice on how to move forward. As this development and others unfold, we will continue to monitor and remain at the forefront of immigration care.
Contact us today to speak with a trusted California immigration lawyer about your individual case.