Conversely, Biden weighs in on retaining migrant families

The Biden administration is considering detaining migrant families who entered 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 turnaround after officials stopped detaining families in detention centers in late 2021.

The US has taken increasing measures to restrict migrants as it faces a growing number of people coming to the Mexican border seeking asylum. COVID-era restrictions have allowed U.S. immigration officials to quickly turn most migrants around, and few families were detained during the height of the pandemic.

Under current policy, families arriving at the US border with Mexico are released into the US and ordered to appear in immigration court at a later date.

The administration has the capacity to house about 3,000 people in two Texas family prisons. Currently, the centers house single adults who cross the border illegally.

Both the Obama administration and the Trump administration kept families in those facilities until their immigration cases played out, though a court order prohibits the government from detaining children for more than 20 days. A third detention center in Pennsylvania was closed a few months ago.

No decision is final, said the four officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions. The New York Times first reported that officials were once again considering detaining families.

Administrative officials end the national emergency triggered by the pandemic on May 11. Because the border restrictions are related to the national emergency, they also end on May 11. The US Supreme Court is considering a Republican-led effort to uphold them, but it has struck oral arguments about the case from its calendar.

Homeland Security officials are struggling to come up with ways to prevent migrants from coming to the US-Mexico border. The vast majority of migrants who come to apply for asylum do not qualify for asylum.

The two Texas detention centers are located in Karnes City and in Dilley. Families would likely be held again in Dilley, which was used to hold families during the Obama and Trump administrations.


Spagat reported from San Diego.

Leave a Comment